SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP — The Gallia Sheriff’s Office and Gallia Prosecutor’s Office released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying they believed an April 12 shooting and death which occurred at a residence on East Bethel Church Road was done in self-defense.
Keith A. Coon, 51, of Jackson, reportedly died in the incident.
According to that statement from the respective offices of the sheriff and prosecutor, an unnamed woman in her 20s who law enforcement said was home alone the morning of April 12 was bathing and heard a pounding at an exterior door, a slamming and a scratching sound. The family’s dogs were barking. The woman reported she stopped bathing and wrapped herself in a towel before opening the door to the bathroom and coming face-to-face with Coon. He was observed to be in nothing but boxer shorts. She reportedly screamed at him and told him to leave and he did not.
“So, she kicked him. It’s our understanding that over the course of this investigation, she is trained in martial arts,” said Gallia Prosecutor Jason Holdren. “So, that training would have helped. She stated the man went down to the floor and she went to her bedroom to retrieve her firearm. She has a concealed carry permit. Once she exited her bedroom and had the firearm, she didn’t see the man. She stated she wasn’t sure if he left the home and she began looking through the house to see if he had left.”
The woman then set off her home alarm system to notify law enforcement. She then heard her dogs barking again before opening a door to the home’s “sun room.”
“The man was standing there now holding kitchen shears over his head and coming at her,” said Holdren. “She indicated she was in fear for her life and I don’t know how you couldn’t be. She shot the man.”
Coon was reportedly shot with a .38-caliber revolver. The Gallia Coroner Dr. Daniel Whiteley indicated that Coon had been shot once in the head.
Holdren said between Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Gallia Sheriff’s Office, they sought for any connection between the victim and Coon. They were unable to find one. Law enforcement interviewed acquaintances and family of Coon as well as the victim, probed mobile phones and still did not find a connection between the individuals. Coon appeared to have randomly driven to the East Bethel Church Road home.
Police responded to the scene at roughly 9:43 a.m. that day.
“We’ve found what was consistent with what we were told on day one,” said Holdren. “She did the right thing…This, is I think, another example of what we’re seeing folks do when they’re high on methamphetamine.”
Autopsy records showed methamphetamine and amphetamine had been present in Coon’s system at the time of his death.
Video records indicate that as soon as Coon pulled into the residence’s drive, he immediately got out of the vehicle and charged at the home’s back door. He pounded on it before entering.
Ohio State Highway Patrol, according to Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin, had taken a report stating an individual saw a vehicle matching the description of the same one Coon had left at the East Bethel Church Road residence driving erratically on US 35 prior to the shooting.
“Had she not been prepared and trained like she was,” said Gallia Chief of Deputies Troy Johnson, “we could have been looking at an unsolved murder.”
“I don’t think based on what we see in the toxicology report and what we know through our training, I don’t think he was following any type of logic or planning,” said Champlin. “We think it’s exaggerated behavior by the methamphetamine.”
Johnson and Champlin said that through their law enforcement experience, those under the influence of methamphetamine can seem to have dulled pain receptors, react stronger than a typical person and act erratically with a lack of connection to the reality around them.
No charges have been filed in the incident. Holdren said law enforcement felt confident in deeming the case an example of self-defense.
“It is unfortunate and we are all saddened that in this incident a man lost his life,” said Champlin. “However, I firmly support the fact that in this case, this young lady relied on her training and her constitutional right to defend herself inside of her own home.”
The story has been modified to reflect a correction that Coon was reported only shot once.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.