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.)


14 Responses to “Texas Couple Shoots Family for Tresspassing: Including Two Kids, 5 and 7 years-Old”

  1. Rwraith on May 9th, 2009 4:39 pm

    Donald Jr. just died several ours ago.

  2. Leon Richard on May 9th, 2009 5:34 pm

    Pray for the victims in this senseless and stupid incident. I am sorry for their loss and pain.

    Just curious what the right to keep and bear arms has to do with idiots, criminals, lunatics, and morons like these two?

    Seriously, in the USA there are over 80 million people who own and use firearms responsibly, or have them and don’t use them at all. The few numbskulls should not be used as an excuse to restrict what the rest of us do.

    I wonder what sort of gun control law, in the author’s mind, might have “prevented” this? Really, maybe an example or two?

    Gun control laws cannot prevent crimes, because in order for them to work criminals would have to obey them. The issue is nonsensical. The only people who would be obeying any gun control laws would be the very people who wouldn’t be causing a problem with them in the first place.

    Using this, and other incidents like it and worse, to further the gun control agenda is the hallmark of the gungrabbing crowd. They can’t wait for something like this to happen, so they can dance in the blood and scream, “See? We told you so. We told you so. How come you don’t care?”

    We do, more than you could possibly ever know. I used to work in law enforcement/security/EMS and firefighting. I am now a physical therapist. If I thought this gun control foolishness would actually accomplish something, I’d be all for it. I don’t, and I’m not.

    I hope the family recovers quickly and completely, and things become “normal” for them eventually. There’s no excuse for this, and those two morons should pay the maximum penalty for their callousness and recklessness.

  3. Seven-Year-Old Texas Shooting Victim Dies | ChattahBox News Blog on May 9th, 2009 5:53 pm

    […] 7-year-old Donald Coffee, Jr. died from his wounds today, after being shot with a 12-gauge shotgun by an East Texas couple […]

  4. Jimmy Page on May 9th, 2009 5:55 pm

    Guns don’t kill people. People do. If someone stabbed another person with a kitchen knife, would you ban kitchen knives? Also the Castle Law is really a natural extension of protecting oneself. You cannot be bothered to wait till the trespasser fires at you, before you can fire back. If someone is trespassing in your property, you can assume by all means that they’re hostile and take action accordingly. I do not really see what the fuss is. Its unfortunate that we sometimes have loons like Gale and Sheila Muh. And what does it have to do with the confederate flag anyway? Banning guns only deprives people who want to defend themselves of the right to protect themselves, because criminals will have easy access to guns anyway

  5. MikeW on May 9th, 2009 7:14 pm

    Sue. Your diatribe on the state of the guns laws and laws on self-defense in Texas is interesting but significantly diminishes your credibility and raises serious doubts as to the accuracy of the other suppose “facts” related in your story. You might also wish to note that Texas is just one of some 47 states that considers citizens who have attained the age of 18 to be adults.

    For your own peace of mind and ours, please stay as far away from Texas as possible.

    BTW, that photo of a pistol included in your story must have been inserted for dramtic effect, but someone should have told you that it doesn’t look anything like a shotgun.

  6. BruceLD on May 9th, 2009 8:39 pm

    I’m from Canada, and my heart goes out to the victims and their family.

    My comment is not meant as a person attack against Americans or their beliefs. All I want to do is express my own opinion.

    I’ve never understood why Americans need to carry guns. Yes, I know that criminals use guns and kill innocent people and people should have the right to defend and protect themselves and their families. I’ve also read about what happens when children get a hold of guns leading to very sad consequences.

    In Canada, we aren’t allowed to own guns. It’s mostly only criminals that use guns against each other. Yes, innocent people get caught in the crossfire between gangs but this doesn’t mean that everyone should carry a gun just because there is a 1 in 10 million chance that you’re gonna get caught in the crossfire of gang violence. If you put guns in the hands of everyone, there’s a good chance that someone who has some sort of mental or moral deficiency is going use it against someone either accidentally or intentionally without any real or logical reason.

    If you think everyone should have a gun to defend themselves, then perhaps every country in the world has the right to nuclear weapons. It wouldn’t be long before some country pushes the button resulting in global nuclear warfare of which there will be no winner.

    Even if all the countries in the world were smart enough not to push the button, imagine if some nut group like Muslim radicals or the Taliban got their hands on some of those nukes. We’d all be dead. This is why only the police should have weapons, and why no one should have nuclear weapons. We haven’t yet come far enough as a race to be mature and smart enough not to be given such power and control.

  7. Texan on May 10th, 2009 6:04 am

    I’m going to briefly go over the fact that this article is riddled from top to bottom with misinformation, such as concealed handgun permits are heavily regulated and only available to anyone over 21 with out anything greater than a Class B misdemeanor, and that there is in fact many laws regarding guns of all kinds in Texas. One example being, that persons under 21 cannot purchase a handgun (contrary to what the author of this ludicrous article would have you believe) and cannot be in possession of one without the supervision of a person over the age of 21 except in the carrying out of an agricultural task. (plowing alone in a field at night, which I did regularly as a child of under 21 and even 18). Okay, maybe it wasn’t so briefly… 😉

    I’ll skip right to my main point, these people (who did the shooting) are murdering criminals. What gun law in ANY state could have prevented their owning a gun? I know of none. There are crazy people in this world, there always will be. Do you want to be the one who can’t shoot back when they raise their ugly head? What do you think this could would have done if they’d had lead flying by their own head? Probably not have stuck around to play hot potato with the shotgun.

    I wonder why Texas has such low occurrences of crime compared to places like California and New York? People are shot every day in the “victim disarming states” for much less than the tragic story above, what makes this one so much more horrible than those? (As surmised by your lack of reporting on those other instances.)

    The Coffee family is in our prayers and we will pray that justice is served quickly.

  8. Sue on May 10th, 2009 9:18 am

    Thank you for all the great comments. I do realize gun control is a polarizing issue in this country. Texas gun laws were discussed, because this tragedy involving a gun occurred in Texas. However, many states have similar gun policies to Texas, allowing gun purchases without a background check, for example or allowing long gun ownership without a permit.

    In regards to the comments left by “Texan,” I was in error on the handgun law in Texas, GC CH. 411, requires residents to be at least 21 to apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

    Texas is also a “shall issue” state, meaning a person asking for the permit doesn’t have to provide a reason why they want to carry a handgun. Texas is not alone, 39 states in the country are “shall issue” states.

    The question that I alluded to: Could this tragedy have been prevented if we had stricter gun laws? Many of you answered no. The old NRA motto, “Guns don’t kill people, People do,” was mentioned and that these people, Gale and Sheila Muhs are crazy disturbed people.

    First off, the NRA motto looks good on a bumper sticker, but the fact is, studies have shown that when guns are part of the equation in a violent dispute, the result is more likely to result in death. In addition, with 30,694 gun deaths in the U.S, over 50% are from suicides. This is a startling public health hazard. (2005 figures)

    The rate of death by handguns in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries that have strict gun laws, is startlingly high. I can go on providing statistics and a gun proponent will have their own.

    The fact is no one can deny that the U.S. is unique in the world with its frontier mentality when it comes to gun ownership. Our country prides itself on allowing its citizens to be armed.

    We equate freedom with owning a weapon. We have fostered an armed mentality in our nation that is not without consequences. And until we resolve this issue as a nation, we will continue to experience violent shootings resulting in the loss of innocent life.

    Would stricter gun laws in Texas have prevented this tragedy? Yes, I believe so. Over time, if our country had enacted restrictive gun control laws, state by state, abolishing the frontier mentality, perhaps people like the Muhs wouldn’t have owned a shotgun. And wouldn’t have had a shoot to kill, no trespassing sign in front of their house.

    When people like the Muhs no longer feel entitled to own a weapon as their God given right, then maybe, just maybe, we as a Nation can evolve.

  9. Jeffinidaho on May 10th, 2009 12:51 pm

    I’m always confounded when something horribly tragic happens, people lose site of the real issue. It has nothing to do with guns, its it’s about two mentally insane people. So get off the agenda, for-or-against guns, and focus! There is an element of society that is totally wacked out, for what ever reason, and they will find a way to do harm regardless of all the stupid laws we enact to prevent their actions. Laws, which take away from all our freedoms and cost billions to enforce. Whether its a gun, knive, club or rock, the crazy Muhs of the world will find a way to inflict death and destruction.

  10. Henry Bowman on May 10th, 2009 2:25 pm

    There is a certain mentality that believes that banning guns will keep the underclass from having guns. These same folks were sure that banning alcohol would prevent the underclass from getting drunk, and banning drugs would keep the underclass from getting high. Not only did both these high-minded idiocies make the situation worse, but both spawned massive, violent criminal empires that remain with us to this day.

    One thing that certainly won’t fix this problem is more well-intentioned pap from bloggers and journalists who “speak from their hearts” because it’s so much easier than using their minds to understand the lessons of history. Banning guns never does anything except to ensure an armed advantage to scofflaws. If you want to see what America would resemble with a gun ban, try Mexico… or the Muhs’s back yard. When guns were reasonably available in England, it was a safe and civilized place—but due to England’s prohibitionary push since Dunblane, their violent crime rate now actually EXCEEDS that of the United States. Even in the US, there is a perfect correlation between the areas with the most prohibitive gun laws and the areas with the most violent crime.

    Frankly, the Muhses seem like the kind of couple who have been unduly emboldened throughout life by the fact that none of their victims have ever been capable of returning fire at them. Some people like to pretend we live in a society where “you don’t need a gun because there are police to protect you,” but (not too surprisingly) the police were never around to protect any of the Muhs’s victims. And if they were there, how would they have done it? Um… by shooting back. Well, a crime victim is always there by definition, and he can easily be trained to shoot back as well. Like it or not, you are the only one ultimately responsible for your own safety, and the safety of your family. If you refuse to accept this responsibility, in favor of some irrational dependence on the miraculous materialization of the local police, Batman, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you shouldn’t be amazed when you find yourself facing injury or death, defenseless.

    The number one fallacy among gun prohibitionists is to wail about the costs of gun availability while completely ignoring the benefits. Guns are involved in around 14,000 murders every year in the US. However, they are involved in over 1.2 MILLION incidents of self-defense in the same year. This is an overwhelmingly positive cost/benefit ratio. Any attempt at prohibition will reverse this ratio, in a disastrous fashion.

    Gun prohibition is an easy and obvious “solution,” in the same way that it is easy and obvious to conclude that the earth is flat, that the sun spins around it, and that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. When prohibitionists use the phrase “common sense restrictions,” this is the type of common sense to which they refer. Writing from “common sense” is easy — doing your homework is hard. And people who do the homework come to the (often reluctant) conclusion that the availability of guns saves way more lives than it takes.

  11. Velena on May 11th, 2009 11:58 pm

    To the family of the victims of this crime….I am so sorry….May God give you comfort where there is no comfort.
    Henry Bowmen, Jeffinidaho, Texan, Mike W, Jimmy Page, and Leon Richard
    Thank God there are some people who still use their brains and think things out. People and nations who do not protect themselves are in serious peril from people like the Muhs and nations like the ones who attacked us on 911. Sue, God help us all if your (no thinking mentality prevails). God will have to help us because we sure will not be able to help ourselves. And God, save us from Stupidly!

  12. Zach on May 12th, 2009 8:55 pm

    To all the people who say that gun control laws are nonsensical because criminals won’t obey them, please just answer one question for me:

    Why, in almost every other country in the world with strict gun control laws, are there practically 0 incidents involving guns?

    Mexico is an exception because our border control is a joke, so it’s easy for them to just come to the US and get guns. But guess what, THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE TO COME HERE TO GET GUNS AT ALL proves that their laws are working, otherwise they would just get them there “off the black market”, which is what everyone claims people would do here if guns were outlawed.

    It’s asinine to think that the US would be one of, if not the only exception in the world to gun control laws not working.

    Less guns = less gun crimes. It’s obvious. How often do you read an article involving a gun crime and it says “but the victim shot back and killed the criminal”? 5% of the time? Maybe? If you think that strict gun control laws would not reduce gun crime by 5% or more you’re insane.

  13. wobblehead on May 21st, 2009 2:00 am


  14. Henry Bowman on May 27th, 2009 9:20 pm

    Zach asks:

    “Why, in almost every other country in the world with strict gun control laws, are there practically 0 incidents involving guns?”

    Two reasons: 1) It’s a meaningless observation. 2) It is also absolutely false.

    Meaningless: Gun-control advocates love to get you counting the numbers of crimes involving guns. It’s a form of misdirection. If a country has a certain level of violent crime with guns, bans guns, and the number of crimes with guns goes down but the TOTAL violent crime goes UP, are you better off or worse off? The gun-control advocate is ecstatic because he has banned guns, even though he has doubled the risk of death or injury to the average citizen — proving that he really never cared about making you SAFE, he only cared about making you HARMLESS.

    Ask yourself instead, in any place where civilian guns were banned, what happened to TOTAL VIOLENT CRIME? Without exception, you will see that it went up, usually phenomenally. I already mentioned what happened to England’s crime rate. The same thing happened in Australia.

    False: Zach backpedals and says, “Mexico is an exception, because they get their guns from us.” Both of those clauses are dead wrong. Are Jamaica and Colombia also exceptions? Both absolutely ban civilian guns. How about Switzerland and Israel — the former providing each of its male citizens a fully automatic weapon to store at home, and the latter running “gun lending libraries,” and both of them having lower violence rates than most other countries including the US — are they also exceptions? No — they are THE RULE.

    Was life peaceful in the Dark Ages, with no violence, no criminal deaths? After all, guns hadn’t been invented yet. But there were plenty of thugs, gangs, swords, knives, rocks, arrows, torches, and other hazards for the common man, who usually lived a brutish and brief life with no hope of self-defense. Guns are actually a CIVILIZING influence, allowing the weak, the old, women, etc. to hold their own against large, strong, usually male attackers, many of whom just happen to have been agents of their own governments.

    Zack concludes with: “Less guns = less gun crimes. It’s obvious. How often do you read an article involving a gun crime and it says ‘but the victim shot back and killed the criminal”’? 5% of the time?” My, isn’t Zack a bloodthirsty fellow? According to him, if you successfully defend yourself with a gun, but don’t have to fire it — or if you fire it, and don’t hit the attacker — or if you hit the attacker, but don’t lay him out stone, cold dead — your “good gun” JUST DOESN’T COUNT.

    This is the brand of “common-sense” that the gun-control advocate is always talking about — otherwise known as “shooting from the heart.” These are the sort of ignorant arguments any child can offer who has never bothered to think the situation through, or done his homework. Sad to say, that’s exactly the mindset that most gun-control advocates operate out of every day.

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