Alabama man with ‘particularly lethal’ Molotov cocktails at US Capitol riot left alarming notes in truck, records show

USA World

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – An Alabama man who parked a truck filled with Molotov cocktails and a cache of firearms blocks from the U.S. Capitol had “concerning” handwritten notes that named an Obama-appointed federal judge a “bad guy,” singled out a Muslim representative and listed contact information for conservative media personalities, according to court records. 

The materials were unsealed Tuesday in the federal case against Lonnie Coffman, who was formally indicted on 17 separate weapons charges after his arrest Jan. 6.

Prosecutors included photos of his various weapons and handwritten notes in a motion for pretrial detention, arguing the “handwritten messages raise alarm in the context of the Jan. 6 rioting and criminal infringement on our nation’s democratic process.”

Coffman, 70, was arrested after a chaotic pro-Trump rally that descended into a riot and deadly insurrection inside the halls of Congress. 

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“The Molotov cocktail components were created so as to be particularly lethal, with a napalm substance inside that would stick to the target and continue to burn,” prosecutors wrote in a detention motion. “The defendant had hundreds of rounds of ammunition, each of which could cost a human life. The pickup truck was parked in close proximity to the U.S. Capitol Building.”

Coffman had five illegal firearms, according to prosecutors – two pistols, one revolver, an AR-15 rifle and a shotgun – in addition to the Molotov cocktails and a “large capacity ammo feeding device.”

Charges against Coffman include possession of an unregistered firearm, carrying a pistol without a license, carrying a rifle or shotgun outside of a home or place of business, possession of a large ammunition feeding device and unlawful possession of ammunition. 

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“The defendant brought these weapons to the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Capitol Building, and traveled the area with two firearms on his person,” the motion for pretrial detention says. “The amount of weapons suggests an intent to provide them to others, as no one person could reasonably use so many at once.”

The motion added: “The nature and seriousness of the danger that the defendant would pose if released cannot be overstated.”

Coffman was not charged with illegally entering a federal building or civil disorder, as others participating directly in the riot inside the Capitol have been. 

Authorities say the Alabama suspect's truck was filled with Molotov cocktails and a cache of firearms.

Coffman’s attorney, a public defender in Washington, D.C., has not returned requests for comment sent via phone and email. Additional attempts to reach the Coffman family have been unsuccessful. 

In addition to handwritten notes labeling conservative and right-wing media personalities “good guys” and a “Good Girl,” Coffman scrawled a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln: “We The People Are The Rightful Masters Of Both The Congress And The Courts, Not To Overthrow The Constitution But To Overthrow The Men Who Pervert The Constitution.”

The Lincoln quote comes from a speech Lincoln gave in Cincinnati on Sept. 17, 1859, on behalf of Republican candidates and was not a call for violent insurrection. 

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Lincoln criticized his longtime rival, Democratic Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas, for saying that he “did not care” if slavery was “voted up or down.” Lincoln also attacked Douglas for his oft-stated belief that the Declaration of Independence’s guarantees of freedom did not include Black men.

The future president urged his audience to organize politically to block Douglas’ essentially pro-slavery agenda and ensure that anti-slavery laws, particularly a ban on slavery in the federal territories, would come to pass.

Coffman parked truck with Molotov cocktails near US Capitol

Police said they found Coffman’s truck, parked on a block behind the Cannon House Office Building and the Library of Congress, in a bomb squad sweep related to a separate pipe bomb scare in the area. An officer flagged the red pickup after spotting the handle of a gun in the cab. 

Investigators said the Molotov cocktails were found in the truck bed. The explosives, which a federal prosecutor last week likened to “homemade napalm,” were constructed of Mason jars, golf tees and cloth rags. Coffman allegedly admitted to investigators later that they were filled with gasoline and melted Styrofoam, a mixture that would allow the flaming liquid to better stick to any object it hit after the explosives were detonated. 

The Alabama suspect's truck, which prosecutors say was filled with firearms and Molotov cocktails, was parked blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

Investigators believe Coffman parked the truck around 9:15 a.m. and left the vehicle, based on surveillance footage cited in court record. 

About 6:30 p.m., a woman drove Coffman up to the 400 block of First Street Southeast, a block away from Coffman’s truck. Coffman told officers at the scene that he was trying to get back to his parked vehicle. 

“The man asked officers whether they had located the bombs, which officers initially understood to be a reference to the components to the destructive devices located in Coffman’s truck, but later understood to be a reference to the secure perimeter that had been set up by law enforcement, which perimeter had kept Coffman from returning to his car earlier,” the affidavit states. 

Coffman allegedly identified himself and his truck.  

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