Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Starbucks Shooter

The End in Sight

At this point, Cooper was placed under arrest, given a court-appointed attorney, Steven Kiersch, and asked for hair and blood samples for analysis. He claimed he'd have told police about his involvement a year earlier if city detectives had not harassed his family. On March 6, 1999, newspapers announced that Cooper had been arrested as the lone gunman in the Starbucks shootings. One source told reporters, "He's given up everything." Yet it would prove to be not quite that simple.

U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis
U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis

After several hearings, Cooper was charged on August 5, 1999 on a 48-count federal racketeering indictment, which included three counts of first-degree felony murder in the Starbucks shootings. He was also accused in the shooting homicide of a security guard in 1993, the attempted murder of a police officer, and four armed robberies. Often, he worked with others, using masks and stealing cars, so this justified the racketeering charge. U.S. Attorney Wilma A. Lewis said he could seek the death penalty against Cooper, although he had not yet made that decision. In fact, he would ultimately recommend a life sentence.

Mask Used by Killer
Mask Used by Killer

Kiersch stated his intent to "vigorously contest the indictment," and Cooper now claimed that he'd been coerced into confessing. He said, "I swear on my father's grave and my son's life I didn't do Starbucks." Both sides were now in a tug of war over the confession. While it nicely fit the facts, the interrogation had lasted many hours and could be viewed as coercive. The cops who were certain they had closed the case had to sweat it out a while longer.

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