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Trial ahead for man accused of plotting to kill state troopers

Liz Evans Scolforo
717-505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

A former Loganville man is facing trial on allegations he was planning a massive attack during which he would kill his ex and as many state police troopers as he could with homemade bombs and a homemade assault rifle.

Howard Cofflin Jr.

Howard Timothy Cofflin Jr., 56, on Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing in his case, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, according to court records.

His formal arraignment in York County Common Pleas Court is set for April 29, records state.

Cofflin remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with two counts each of attempted first-degree murder and terrorism, three counts of attempted aggravated assault and one count each of attempted first-degree murder of a law-enforcement officer, making terroristic threats and making a bomb threat.

His public defender, Jim Rader, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Police said Cofflin, most recently of Dundalk, Maryland, was disgruntled by court rulings against him. In response, he had been constructing improvised explosive devices from propane tanks and a homemade AR-15 assault rifle, piece by piece, with parts bought online, according to police.

Cofflin planned to use the homemade weapons to murder his ex-girlfriend of 20 years and then murder all the state troopers who responded to the scene to arrest him, according to police allegations.

Started with PFA: According to charging documents, Cofflin and his then-girlfriend argued Aug. 14, 2015, prompting her to obtain a protection from abuse order forbidding Cofflin from having contact with her or coming near her. The woman said Cofflin hit her, threw hot water on her and threatened her in the Loganville home they had shared.

Police said Cofflin later told them he planned to cut off his ex-girlfriend's head and mount it on a stick on her front lawn to make a point that policies regarding PFAs should be changed.

Cofflin was arrested in September and charged only with making terroristic threats. But a month later his then-attorney alerted police to the serious threats Cofflin allegedly was making about having body armor and planning to take back by force the home he'd shared with his ex, officials have said.

Because of a previous conviction, Cofflin couldn't pass a background check to buy a gun, so he did research on the Internet and drew on his knowledge as a machinist to begin building an AR-15, according to police.

He told police he bought a gas mask, body armor, night-vision goggles and other items for the attack and also admitted he was trying to get armor-piercing bullets, police said.

Cofflin planned to affix nails and bolts onto the outside of propane tanks to make shrapnel-spewing IEDs, police said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.