Texas Couple Shoots Family for Tresspassing: Including Two Kids, 5 and 7 years-Old
May 9, 2009
(ChattahBox)—A reclusive East Texas couple, Gale and Sheila Muhs, both 45-years-old, stand accused of opening fire on an off-roading family group they mistakenly thought were trespassing, wounding four, including a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. The victims briefly stopped their two vehicles on a public dirt road, by a levee near the Muhs’ house, so one of the children could go to the bathroom.
The Muhs, known by neighbors for their unsociable behavior, came out of their house armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, shouting at the family group to get out of their vehicles and immediately opened fire.
Sheila Muhs took the first shot at the victims, then handed the shotgun to her husband Gale, who shot next, continuing to take turns shooing at the unarmed victims.
The victims were at the end of a daylong excursion on off-road vehicles through wooded paths along the Trinity River in the town of Westlake. Donald Coffee Sr., 36, his wife and two children, Donald Jr., 7 and Destiny, 5 were all together in one SUV. A family friend, Patrick Cammack, 30, drove a second vehicle. An unidentified 11-year-old boy was also with the group of victims.
The Muhs shot 7-year old Donald, Jr. in his head, 5-year-old Destiny in her elbow and Donald, Sr. in the shoulder. Donald’s wife was unharmed. The family friend, Patrick Cammack was not so lucky. He was shot in his neck.
One report has Cammack fleeing in his vehicle in close pursuit by Sheila Muhs in her own four-wheeler. He abandoned his vehicle and started running for his life when Sheila Muhs shined her lights on his vehicle.
At some point, the Muhs stopped their shooting and Sheila called the police and said, “They’re out here tearing up the levee, so I shot them.”
Somehow, through all the terror, Coffee’s wife jumped in the driver’s seat of the SUV and raced to a nearby fire station, where the victims were taken by helicopter to a hospital. Both Donald, Jr. and Patrick Cammack are in critical condition. Donald, Sr. and Destiny remain in good condition.
The senseless shooting shocked many in the small East Texas community. The victims stopped on a public access road and never even crossed over to the levee or trespassed on the Muhs’ property.
Liberty County Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor said, “The levee is not private property, it belongs to the subdivision.” “Even if they were on the levee, it’s not a shootable offense. It’s ludicrous to shoot someone for going to the bathroom on the side of the road.”
One neighbor of the Muhs in the small Texas town, knows only too well of the dangerous, “shoot first ask questions later” behavior of the weather-beaten, scraggly looking couple. With heavily lined faces, and Gale Muhs sporting a chest length beard, the couple could easily pass for people 20 years older.
The Muhs tiny stilt house sits in a wooded area. The only adornment on the house is a large rebel flag flying from the roof. A hand scrawled, “no trespassing” sign would send a chill down any visitor’s spine. The sign reads, “Trespassers will be shot. Survivers (sic) will be reshot!! (sic) Smile I will.”
Clyde Christ, a neighbor of the Muhs, was operating a tractor to grade the roads near the Muhs’ house, in 2004, when Gale Muhs took out his shotgun and shot at Christ. Mr. Christ says he filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s department, but nothing was done.
Gale Muhs is known to the police, as well for his two prior drunken driving convictions. Gale Muhs works as a city maintenance worker.
If there ever were a poster couple for gun control, Gale and Sheila Muhs would be it. This shocking incident raises many questions. How does something like this happen in the twenty-first century? Has the heavily armed State of Texas, where there are more guns than people, become a dangerous place to live in?
And who is to blame for this right to bear arms mentality at any cost? The government in the State of Texas has long promoted a freewheeling, old west mentality, allowing its citizens to carry a rifle or shotgun out in the open. *Permits to carry concealed handguns are issued to just about everyone over 18 without a felony conviction.
Texas is also one of the very few states that have no laws on its books controlling possession of handguns, shotguns or rifles for residents over 18-years-old. The “shoot first ask questions later” mentality starts from the top of state government with Governor Rick Perry.
Governor Rick Perry passed a “Castle Doctrine” law in 2007 allowing homeowners to shoot intruders. Perry also passed a recent law allowing Texas residents to carry their handguns openly as they walk from their home to their vehicle and allowing drivers to carry concealed weapons in their vehicles without a permit.
Is Texas such a lawless state that this extreme level of self-arming is necessary? Unless Texas residents want to experience more senseless shootings of innocent people, state leaders need to examine the lack of gun control in their state.
Meanwhile, the Muhs are in jail, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, while 7-year-old Donald Coffee, Jr. is fighting for his life at Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center.
(Update: Sadly, 7-year-old Donald Coffee, Jr., died of his head wound today. He was shot in the head by Sheila and Gale Muhs, with a 12-gauge shotgun. My heart and prayers go out to the Coffee family.)
* (Correction, Texas GC CH. 411 issues permits to carry a concealed handgun to residents at least 21-years-old.)