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Alabama man pleads guilty to weapons, molotov cocktails charges connected to Jan. 6 attack

Lonnie Coffman, 71, is to be sentenced on April 1 and faces up to nearly four years in prison, according to sentencing guidelines.

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 man Lonnie Coffman pled guilty Friday to three felony counts connected to him bringing guns and molotov cocktails to Washington D.C. where he attended the rally outside of the U.S. Capitol prior to the deadly attack. 

Coffman, 71, spoke to the judge from a Washington D.C. jail, where he’s to be held until sentencing, federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said during the hearing. Coffman pled guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm, for the 11 molotov cocktails found in the bed of his truck, and for carrying a pistol without a license. Coffman had two pistols on him when arrested by police. He also had numerous guns and other weapons in his truck, court records show. 

In a separate Alabama case that had been transferred to Washington D.C. court, Coffman pled guilty to a second felony count of possession of an unregistered firearm related to the molotov cocktails. Coffman was indicted on Jan. 8 by a District of Columbia grand jury on 17 separate weapons charges.

Coffman faces up to 48 months on the molotov cocktail charge and up to 48 months for the unregistered firearms charge, according to sentencing guidelines, the judge said. The federal government may ask for terrorism sentencing enhancements, the judge said, but the court would have to decide whether to allow those enhanced sentencing measures would apply. The plea agreement spells out that he would serve all sentences concurrently. 

Prior to his plea the hearing took a turn when Coffman told the judge he believed the gas was too old to be dangerous as molotov cocktails, worrying the judge that he may not be able to plead guilty if he believed the devices not to be dangerous. 

“I did not plan any action with those things. … I did not plan on blowing nothing up. Nothing like that,” Coffman told the judge, but the judge dismissed those comments and focused on the dangerousness of the explosive devices and the fact Coffman knew what they were capable of.

After some discussion and questioning of Coffman the judge deemed he was aware the molotov cocktails could potentially be dangerous and had assembled them knowing as much, and allowed him to plead guilty. 

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According to a court filing in support of pretrial detention, in the truck, police found a handgun, assault rifle, shotgun and “several large-capacity ammunition feeding devices,” hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a crossbow, several machetes, smoke devices, a stun gun and 11 mason jars, which were later determined to contain homemade napalm. Coffman had two pistols on him when police arrested him while returning to his truck, according to court records. 

“The search of the defendant’s pickup truck contained concerning handwritten messages that raise alarm in the context of the January 6 rioting and criminal infringement on our nation’s democratic process,”  court records show. “One was a handwritten note with words purportedly attributed to 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 note also contained information about elected representatives (describing one as purportedly Muslim) and describing a judge as a ‘bad guy.’ Another set of handwritten messages were found on the back of a magazine, and contained purported contact information for ‘Conservative Talk Show Host Mark Levin,’ ‘Shaun [sic] Hannity,’ and ‘Senator Ted Cruz,’” the filing reads. 

Court documents show that the FBI was aware of Coffman and his involvement with the Southwest Desert Militia as early as 2014, a  group that was formed to “combat illegal immigration.” 

Coffman is one of seven Alabamians charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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