Charges made in shots fired incident

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Two individuals who were arrested during an ongoing investigation of shots fired appeared on Tuesday in Mower County District Court.

Christopher Edward Coleman, 32, of Austin was charged with felony violent felon in possession of a firearm. His girlfriend, Samantha Grace Bennett, 35, of Austin was charged with felony aiding and offender-obstructing investigation and gross misdemeanor user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.

Christopher Edward Coleman, 32

According to the court complaint, officers responded to a report of shots fired at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday at the intersection of First Avenue and Second Street Southeast. Coleman, who lives at the apartment complex at 105 Second St. SE, approached the officers and said his 2004 silver Chevy Monte Carlo was stolen. He said the suspects fired shots at his residence. He allegedly told an officer that he ducked behind the kitchen cabinets during the shooting, but then said he chased a black male toward the post office.

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Officers allegedly found four spent nine-millimeter bullet cartridges and broken glass from a vehicle window nearby. They set up a perimeter and began speaking to residents of the complex, some of whom said they heard the shots.

According to the complaint, the stolen car was found, still running and unoccupied, in the 200 block of First Street Southeast. A witness told police that two black men exited the vehicle and ran from the scene. Three spent .22-caliber bullet cartridges were allegedly found inside the vehicle. The driver side rear window was smashed.  Police allegedly found two bullet holes in the car’s frame, prompting the suspicion that someone at the residence fired back at the thieves. The vehicle was taken to the Mower County Law Enforcement Center garage.

Samantha Grace Bennett, 35

Coleman and Bennett went to the LEC for a non-custodial interview and gave police permission to search their residence for evidence, according to the complaint. Police allegedly found a Springfield nine-millimeter handgun wrapped in a piece of carpet. The officers were then given a search warrant for the residence.

Bennett allegedly told an officer Coleman gave her the handgun to hide after the shooting and that she hid it in the complex’s common laundry area.

A review of Coleman’s criminal history shows prior convictions for violent crimes. A review of Bennett’s criminal history shows a prior disposition for a felony drug crime.

In Minnesota, felony violent felon in possession of a firearm carries a maximum penalty of 15 years on prison and a $30,000 fine while felony aiding an offender-obstructing investigation carries a maximum penalty of 7 ½ years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Coleman and Bennett will appear in court again on Jan. 22.