Manhunt continues for suspect

Published Aug 21, 2017 at 11:53am

Rome Police are looking for the suspect of Saturday morning’s homicide that took place the parking lot behind Sammy G’s bar in the 400 block of Woodrow Avenue.

The suspect has been identified as Robert W. Coffin, 35, of Rome, and the weapon used in the fatal shooting has not been recovered.

“We are actively looking for the suspect,” Rome Police Det. Jeffrey M. Lanigan said today. The detective said previously the shooting had been considered an isolated incident and that the public is not in danger.

Thomas E. Shepherd II, 25, of Rome, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the face. It is unknown if the victim suffered other wounds. Results of an autopsy conducted at Rome Memorial Hospital Saturday were not yet available. Police would not
indicate yet what type of firearm was used.

The shooting occurred around 3:28 a.m. in the parking lot near the alleyway behind Sammy G’s bar, located at 417 W. Dominick St. The parking lot is located on Woodland Avenue. Shepherd was transported by ambulance to Rome Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later, authorities said.

Asked if Shepherd was struck more than once, Lanigan said, “We can’t say until we have the results of the autopsy. The detective said “three shell casings” were recovered from the scene. Utica Police responded to the scene to assist with a piece of equipment used for crime scene documentation, detectives said.

The incident stemmed “from an altercation and then the shooting occurred,” Lanigan said.

“It wasn’t an ambush attack,” he said, adding that the suspect was not waiting to attack the victim.

The detective would not say how the argument started.

“We’ve spoken to several witnesses, but we’re asking anyone who may have seen anything prior to the shooting to reach out to us,” Lanigan said. “We’re still investigating what caused this.”

It is not known if the victim and suspect knew each other, but Lanigan said they were not friends.

A motor vehicle accident occurred as police were investigating the shooting, but Lanigan said the crash was a separate incident and not related.

Saturday’s was Rome’s first homicide of the year and the first since the shooting death of Rose G. Ortiz, 22, outside the former Bucky’s Restaurant & Lounge on Floyd Avenue back in October 2014. Ortiz was an innocent bystander outside the bar when police said Darnell Howard, of Utica, opened fire on a crowd of about 200. Howard was convicted in December 2015 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

According to Shepherd’s obituary, he worked for Lowe’s Home Improvement store on Erie Boulevard West and was a 2010 graduate of Rome Free Academy who enjoyed outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and camping.

According to Rome Daily Sentinel archives, Coffin was charged with possessing crack cocaine totaling 1.5 ounces during a traffic stop on Massock Avenue back in February 2015. Police said he served about a year in county jail on a drug possession charge. Also, according to published reports, Coffin has been on parole since 2013 after being convicted of first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in 2005.

Anyone with information about the incident or what happened inside the bar prior to the shooting should contact Det. Lanigan at 315-339-7719 or the Detective Division at 315-339-7715. Those who may have information about Coffin’s whereabouts should call 911.