One dead, three injured in shooting
Couple jailed on $25,000 bond
By PAIGE HEWITT, CINDY HORSWELL and CINDY GEORGE
A 7-year-old boy has died from gunshot wounds he received when a Liberty County couple opened fire on him and three other people they believed were trespassing, Liberty County Sheriff’s Cpl. Hugh Bishop said.
Donald Coffey Jr. was on his way to swim in the Trinity River with his father late Thursday when homeowners Gale and Sheila Muhs fired a 12-gauge shotgun at them.
The boy was hit in the face. Patrick Cammack, 30, a family friend who was driving another vehicle, was hit in the face
Family friend Joseph Breland, 46, said Coffey Jr. was a sweet, free-sprited child who loved the outdoors. He enjoyed swimming and riding on the backseat of his dad's Harley.
"All the time he played. He never stopped. He was full of energy," Breland said. "You couldnt ask for a better-spirited kid. Just a little country boy .. .who liked to kick his shoes off."
A Liberty County justice of the peace set bond at $25,000 each this morning for the Muhses, both 45, who are charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities are considering upgrading the charges to murder or capital murder.
Both Muhses remain in jail. Bishop said they have attorneys, but doubted either could post bond given their apparent financial position.
Donald Coffey, 37, who lives outside the subdivision, took his children, including Destiny, 5, on a ride in a big-wheeled SUV near the Trinity River. Both were treated and released.
Cammack, who was driving a jeep, has been upgraded to serious condition.
Investigators continue to try to unravel what happened about 9 p.m. Thursday as a jeep and a sport utility vehicle drove in front of the couple’s house in the Westlake subdivision south of Dayton. According to investigators, the couple came outside with their 12-gauge shotgun and shouted for both vehicles to “get out.”
Immediately afterward, investigators said, the couple took turns firing at least one shot each.
Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said Sheila Muhs called 911 after the shooting and reported, “They’re running over our levee in big-wheel vehicles, and I shot them.”
Bishop said Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little won’t allow the release of that call.
Since 2002, there have been 15 calls for service involving the Muhses’ address.
Authorities initially estimated that the Muhses were about 40 yards from the four victims, who were unarmed, when the shots were fired on the dark, unlit road.
According to Bishop, investigators are re-examining the distance between the couple and the victims. The probe also includes a close examination of property lines and visibility under an area illuminated only by moonlight. County appraisal staff are assisting with maps to help investigators determine the line of site the Muhses would have had given additional rural conditions, such as canopies of trees.
“You have to know exactly where everyone was when it happened,” Bishop said. “There are unique considerations out there ... this is back in the sticks.”
Authorities are also working on getting a warrant to search the couple’s home, a small stilt house with a rebel flag. A sign posted in front is scrawled with the warning: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will.”
The road where the victims were shot cuts between the Muhses’ house and the levee. Investigators say the public has access to the road and the levee.
Area residents frequently ride around the levy on four-wheelers.
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