A January 6 defendant pleaded guilty on Friday to bringing Molotov cocktails and an unlicensed gun to Capitol Hill on the day of the insurrection.
Vietnam veteran and Alabama resident Lonnie Leroy Coffman’s actions that day remain some of the most unsettling to come out of the investigations into the Capitol riot.
On January 6, Coffman parked his truck – which contained unregistered firearms, a crossbow, machetes, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a large capacity ammo clip and 11 Mason jars filled with gasoline and Styrofoam – a few blocks from the Capitol.
Photos of Coffman in the crowd at the Capitol were found by investigators and prosecutors say Coffman was living out of his truck for a week in Washington, DC.
Officers found Coffman in possession of two unlicensed handguns during his arrest on January 6, according to court documents. Investigators found 12 additional Molotov cocktails at Coffman’s home in Alabama which he also faced charges for.
A point of contention came during the hearing when Coffman said he created the Molotov cocktails found in his truck several years ago and said that the gasoline would no longer be able to catch fire.
US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she couldn’t accept the plea offer if Coffman did not agree that the devices could function as Molotov cocktails.
“If you’re not agreeing to it, I’m not accepting it,” Kollar-Kotelly said of the plea agreement.
Assistant US Attorney Michael Friedman argued that whether the “combination of parts was designed or intended” to be an incendiary device is what mattered for the agreement. Kollar-Kotelly, however, said that was not sufficient, adding, “I want to hear whether (Coffman) agrees” that the Mason jars could have functioned as Molotov cocktails.
After speaking with his lawyer, Coffman told the judge that while he “did not plan any action with those things,” he did know the jars “could have been used” as Molotov cocktails. Coffman also said he did not check to see if there was still gasoline in the jars and that they may have still been able act as incendiary devices.
When asked by the judge, Friedman confirmed that a chemical analysis showed gasoline in the jars.
Kollar-Kotelly, satisfied the government had proven the crimes laid out in the agreement, accepted Coffman’s guilty pleas and set the sentencing hearing for April 1.