The man accused of shooting a Sumter County firefighter in a jealous rage later told detectives, “he didn’t deserve this,” according to investigators.
Lt. Clifford Cofer died Thursday night from five gunshot wounds to the chest and stomach. He was sitting in the passenger seat in his girlfriend’s car while she stopped by her ex-boyfriend’s home to drop off medication for the child they shared.
The ex-boyfriend, identified as Caleb McKinney, knew they were coming, according to investigators, and as soon as they pulled into the drive way he ran out and opened fire on the new boyfriend.
Cofer died at the scene.
“Make no mistake, this man is a cold-blooded killer,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
A five-year-old boy was also sitting in a car seat directly behind Cofer, but miraculously, the gunfire missed him.
Neighbors swooped in and pulled him to safety as McKinney ran back inside the home.
Cofer has been battling fires for more than 10 years. He worked as a lieutenant for the Sumter County Fire Department.
“In a second, somebody decided his life was worth nothing,” said Cynthia Cofer, the victim’s mother.
The victim’s father, also named Clifford Cofer, is a fire chief for Frostproof.
The family has had a rough couple of years.
“I thought breast cancer was the worst day of my life, but that's a piece of cake compared to burying your son when he is in the prime of his life and just becoming the man that he is supposed to be,” she said.
The Cofer family said they will bury their son in Frostproof with full honors.
McKinney was supposed to face a judge Thursday afternoon, but was deemed mentally unfit.