Coats faces arraignment

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The 30-year-old Kentucky man accused of breaking into Pierce Elementary School while armed last January faces arraignment in Bakersfield next month. Judge Kenneth Pritchard found probable cause for suspect Brian Coats’ three felony charges during his preliminary hearing in Ridgecrest earlier this week.

When Coats was arrested in the early morning before school hours on Jan. 4 where, he was in the possession of multiple firearms. Coats was discovered with the firearms in his vehicle off of the school campus, but video surveillance shows him prying the school gates open and dropping what may have been a handgun while running through the campus.

The puzzling footage also shows him chopping down a small tree; stealing a trash can, school desk and small table; and climbing onto the library roof.

In addition to the handgun, police also found two semi-automatic rifles and five high-capacity magazines in Coats’ vehicle during the search.

There is some uncertainty as to whether Coats was actually in possession of the a firearm while on the Pierce campus. Having a gun within 1,000 feet of a school zone is a felony, but the punishment can vary depending on whether or not he had the firearm on campus according to Kern County Deputy Distract Attorney Scott Garver.

Coats is currently out on a $50,000 bond. His arraignment hearing is Monday, May 8, at 8:30 a.m. in Bakersfield.

Story First Published: 2017-04-28