Courthouse locked down, man charged in threat

WHEELING – The Federal Building in Wheeling went into a full lockdown Wednesday after a man made what police termed a “terroristic threat” to shoot up the building.

A Wheeling police report said a medical assistant from a doctor’s office at the Valley Professional Center notified police that Charles Edwin Coffman, 43, of Wheeling made the threat.

The report said police found Coffman in the company of a woman who told them that Coffman said, “if everything keeps going like this, I am going to do what the cop did to the Federal Building, and I can get the guns.” Coffman was apparently referencing an October incident in which Thomas Piccard fired 26 shots into the Federal Building’s facade and glass before being shot and killed by authorities.

Police went to the Federal Building, where a full lockdown remained in place until Coffman had been located.

Wheeling Police Lt. Rob Marriner said Coffman had a disagreement Wednesday morning with personnel at Ohio Valley Medical Center concerning his medications. No further details were released Wednesday.

Coffman is charged with willfully threatening to commit a terrorist act, a felony carrying a penalty of one to three years in prison and a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $25,000. Ohio County Magistrate Joe Roxby set a full cash bond of $25,000.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II said following the October incident at the building, he and his staff were much more prepared for a threat, whether it be real or perceived.

“I advised the employees to find shelter within the office,” he said. “It was a little different than October in that most of us had gone through it and I think we were a little better prepared and more calm.”

Ihlenfeld said regardless of the seriousness or likelihood of a threat, all such instances must be taken seriously.

“You can’t downplay anything like that,” he said. “You can’t underestimate what someone might be capable of.”