Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Starbucks Shooter

What Really Happened at Starbucks

Despite detectives often cautioning him, Cooper waived his right to an attorney and to remain silent, and began implicating two other men. One of them, whom Cooper named as the shooter, had even lived in the same building as Emory Evans and had known him, so this person was picked up. Eight FBI agents questioned him for fifteen hours. He took and passed a polygraph, but was then arrested as a felon in possession of a firearm a charge that was later dismissed. He would later tell reporters he thought Satan was trying to "step" on him frame him just as he was getting his life together. He referred to the Starbucks shootings as "evil."

Dramatization of Police Interview of Cooper
Dramatization of Police Interview of Cooper

But then Cooper finally took credit for the shooting himself. An affidavit, unsealed in a D.C. Superior Court, described the following scenario: For a month, he had planned to rob the Starbucks. He had even approached another man to do it with him. The Sunday following the Fourth of July weekend, he knew, meant the safe would probably contain an abundance of receipts from at least three days. It was a busy shop, so it should be a lucrative take. He couldn't find his chosen partner that afternoon, so he decided to do it alone: he did not wish to miss his "window of opportunity."

Dramatization of Police Interview of Cooper
Dramatization of Police Interview of Cooper

He went to the shop that morning, after dropping his mother off at her church, to see if business was steady. It was. He could see no surveillance camera, and this confirmed his decision to hit this location. During the evening, around the time he knew the place would close, he drove to rear of the store and parked. He had two handguns with him, a .380 and a .38. snubnose revolver. He liked one for power and the other for accuracy. He then entered the store and announced his intent to rob the shop. There were three employees present, he recalled, two males and a female. He herded them into the backroom.

Re-creation: Victims are Herded into the Backroom
Re-creation: Victims are Herded into the Backroom

At his request, the women identified herself as the supervisor and he ordered her to open the safe. She refused, so he fired a warning shot to show her he meant business. He hit the ceiling. She then ran and he pursued her, wrestling with her to get the keys. She made it as far as the sidewalk outside, before he caught her and dragged her back in, but there were no witnesses on the streets. She tried to grab one of his guns, he claimed, so he shot her with the .380. "I kept telling her to give me the keys," he said, "but she kept fighting me." Then he used both guns on her. "Everything else was like a dream...I just started shooting." She had not been targeted with a personal vendetta, it seems, but simply drew fire because she had resisted.

Similar Subnose .38 Revolver
Similar Subnose .38 Revolver

Then Cooper turned his attention to the two frightened young men. He walked into the back room just as one of them began to run, so he shot them both. He shot the black male three times, he remembered, because his first shot directly to the chest failed to kill the young man. That contact wound was consistent with a subnose .38. To end his suffering, Cooper said he shot him twice in the head. He shot the white male only once. Then he left without even trying to get into the cash register or safe. Having just committed a triple homicide, he went directly home, got rid of his guns, and because he "tasted the girl's blood" in his mouth washed his clothes. He buried the guns inside a plastic bag on the grounds of St. Anne's Infant Home in Hyattsville, a few blocks from where he lived.

St. Anne's Infant Home in Hyattsville, MD
St. Anne's Infant Home in Hyattsville, MD

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