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Alabama Capitol rioter must stay in prison, was member of militia group

Lonnie Coffman, found with dozens of weapons and Molotov cocktails outside of the Capitol, will remain in prison until his trial.

Police found a crossbow, Molotov cocktails, guns, smoke canisters and dozens of rounds of ammunition in Alabama man Lonnie Leroy Coffman's truck. (VIA COURT RECORDS)

Alabama’s most infamous Capitol rioter will remain a guest of the Washington D.C. prison system for at least a few more months. 

Lonnie Coffman, the Falkville man who was arrested after storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 and found to have several Molotov cocktails in his truck, was ordered by a federal judge on Monday to remain in prison without bond until his trial. He was indicted on 17 counts a few days after the failed insurrection. 

Court documents made public on Monday also highlighted Coffman’s erratic behavior over several months and detailed his involvement with a Texas militia group, Southwest Desert Militia. 

The court documents include records from a GPS tracker found in Coffman’s truck showing that he drove by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s home in Washington D.C. in December. Phone records kept by Cruz’s staff also show that Coffman phoned Cruz’s office, told the staffer who answered that he had been to Cruz’s home and was looking for contact info for Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. 

The staffer described Coffman as “unbalanced” and “not 100 percent there.” Coffman told the staffer that he wanted to discuss “election fraud.” 

Charging documents in the case against him also identified the weapons found on Coffman, or in his truck, on Jan. 6: 11 molotov-cocktail-type incendiary devices, a rifle, a shotgun, two 9mm pistols, a .22-caliber pistol, a crossbow, several machetes, a stun gun and smoke devices. All of the guns were loaded. 

In her decision to hold Coffman, federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that his weapons cache indicated “that Mr. Coffman had potential plans to coordinate with other members of the January 6, 2021 riots at the United States Capitol.”

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Additionally, the documents in the case show that the FBI was aware of Coffman and his involvement with the Southwest Desert Militia as early as 2014. That group was formed to “combat illegal immigration.” Coffman had the contact info for one of the leaders of a different militia group when he was arrested on Jan. 6. 

Following his arrest, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies searched his home in Falkville. During that search, they recovered more Molotov cocktails and more firearms and ammunition. 

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly said that “evidence strongly indicates that Mr. Coffman engaged in prior planning before arriving at the Capitol and came to Washington, D.C. with the intention of causing mayhem and disrupting the democratic process, mandated under the U.S. Constitution, of counting and certifying Electoral College votes. The substantial cache of deadly weapons stored in Mr. Coffman’s vehicle, parked nearby the Capitol, only reinforces the conclusion that Mr. Coffman had larger ambitions of collaboration on January 6.’’

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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