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Officer Leslie William Coffelt | White House Police Force, U.S. Government White House Police Force, U.S. Government


Leslie William Coffelt

White House Police Force, U.S. Government

End of Watch: Wednesday, November 1, 1950

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 40

Tour: 15 years

Badge # Not available

Military veteran

Cause: Gunfire

Location: District of Columbia

Weapon: Handgun; 9 mm

Offender: One killed; One Apprehended

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Officer Leslie Coffelt was shot and killed when two Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to shoot their way into Blair House, the temporary residence of President Harry S. Truman, in Washington, DC.

One of the suspects was shot and killed by Officer Coffelt and the other was caught and sentenced to prison. The suspect who was arrested was pardoned in 1979 after serving only 27 years and was deported to Puerto Rico, where he died in 1994.

Officer Coffelt was a WWII veteran and had served with the White House Police Force for 15 years. He had previously served with the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department from 1929 to 1936 and from 1941 to 1942 . He is survived by his wife and daughter and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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In 1962 I purchased a Colt .38 caliber Detective Special serial no. 465989 as an off duty weapon. It has the inscription "US CAPITOL POLICE" on the back-strap and I was told by the officer who sold it to me that it was the weapon of the officer killed when the Puerto Rican Nationals shot up the US Capitol in the early 1950's.
I pretty much forgot the story after finding out no Capitol Police Officer had been killed in that attack.
As an interesting aside, I learned recently that the Truman Library has all the weapons involved in the attempted assassination of President Truman except Coffelt's and the Secret Service advised me the whereabouts of Coffelt's weapon is not known, but it was listed as a Colt Official Police serial no. 698907.
I'm continuing to research the unlikely possibility that there may be a connection based on the confusion about the weapon he was carrying that day and the possibility this weapon might have been borrowed for his plain clothes detail at Blair House..

Cpt Richard Shaner (retired)
Prince George's County, Md Police
February 4, 2016


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