New crime fighting operation prompts Gifford search warrant, arrests

Posted at 7:21 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-20 19:23:04-04

More than 24 hours later and you can still see the bullet holes left behind by the deadly gunfire that erupted when investigators say a father-son duo opened fired at swat team members.

Andrew Coffee III and his son, Andrew Coffee IV, each have dozens of prior arrests. The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office described them as career criminals.

The sheriff’s office says the younger Coffee started shooting at the swat teams members, forcing them to return fire. They say he used his pregnant girlfriend as a shield. She was killed from the deputies’ crossfire.

“Cowardly actions on their part,” said Lt. Eric Flowers with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

RELATED: Woman killed, deputy injured in Gifford as SWAT Team attempts to serve warrant

The search warrant that was served was the result of a new crime fighting initiative called Operation Safe Streets. That initiative came about after one of their deputies was shot and killed by a stray bullet. 

“We started this operation targeting criminals, felons, fugitives, drug dealers and people who are causing problems in the community,” said Flowers.

The month-old operation has already yielded 4 search warrants, 16 arrests and the seizure of drugs and guns.

After Monday’s court hearing, the younger Coffee's mother was visibly frustrated. She told reporters that her son has been targeted by deputies because of his family's criminal history. 

“All I’m trying to say as a mother, this investigation needs to be done thoroughly.” she said.

Meanwhile, several community members continue to question why a young pregnant woman, 21-year-old Alteria Woods, was killed by the deputies' crossfire.

“Her mama is grieving. Her father is grieving. Her family is grieving,” said Woods’ aunt on Sunday. “We need some answers about what happened to my niece on this day.”

Among the drug related charges, Andrew Coffee IV faces attempted murder charges for shooting and injuring one of the deputies.