Sheriff: Woman killed as suspect used her as shield

GIFFORD — An early morning firefight with law enforcement during a drug raid ended Sunday with the arrests of two father-and-son career criminals, but also resulted in the death of a bystander and the wounding of a deputy.

Andrew Coffee IV, 21, is in the Indian River County Jail on charges of attempted murder of law enforcement officers. Coffee's father, Andrew Coffee III, 38, also was arrested and is in jail under multiple drug charges.

Alteria Woods, 21, was killed by a bullet fired by sheriff's SWAT team, said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar. Deputies were first fired on as they broke a window at 5:45 a.m., attempting to get into a small house off 45th Street, between 34th and 36th Avenue, he said.

Loar said Coffee IV knelt by a bed that Woods was on and fired at SWAT team members outside the house.

"He used her for personal protection," Loar said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, the last time deputies fired a weapon was Dec. 18, 2015, when Deputy Chris Lester was injured by gunfire from Andrew Coffee II, the father of Andrew Coffee III.

Coffee II was arrested in 2015 after firing at a deputy after a traffic stop. Before that incident, he had served 20 years in prison.

When stopped by a deputy two weeks ago, Coffee IV said, "I am going to finish what my grandfather tied to do," Loar said, referring to the shooting of Lester.

Based on undercover information, the SWAT team got a drug search warrant, and early Sunday, they positioned themselves around the house off 45th Street. Loar described the search warrant deputies served on Sunday as high-risk. Andrew Coffee III has been arrested for 25 felonies.

Loar said  Coffee III didn't know what was going on and came to the door with bags of cocaine in hand. He found himself facing a deputy. A scuffle ensued.

Coffee IV was in a bedroom just yards away and began firing as other members of the SWAT team broke a bedroom window. The deputies returned fire, hitting Woods.

Coffee IV shot and wounded Deputy Kesley Zorc, the department's first female SWAT team member. Zorc had a shoulder wound, and she was treated and released from the Indian River Medical Center

TC Palm


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