Polk County Sheriff’s Office Homicide detectives arrested 31-year-old Caleb J. McKinney, of Lakeland, charging him with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault with a Firearm - Domestic Violence, and Shooting into an Occupied Conveyance, in connection to the shooting death of 27-year-old Clifford Owen Cofer, II, of Winter Haven – a Sumter County Fire/EMS Lieutenant.
At approximately 6:06 pm, on Wednesday, August 03, 2016, the PCSO received a call in reference to a person being shot on Alderman Road. When deputies arrived, they found Cofer slumped over in the front passenger seat of a black Nissan Rogue parked out front of the home.
Through the investigation, detectives learned 27-year-old Kayla Stayner, of Lakeland, is McKinney’s ex-girlfriend; their 3 ½-year relationship ended approximately four months ago. Stayner is the mother of McKinney’s infant child who was at the residence with McKinney. Stayner had recently begun a new relationship with Cofer.
McKinney had been distraught over his breakup with Stayner and was baker acted on July 2, 2016, after threatening to harm himself and overdosing on pills.
Stayner and McKinney had maintained contact with each other regarding child care for their infant son. Stayner had made arrangements with McKinney to bring medicine for their child to McKinney’s residence. Stayner told McKinney Cofer would be with her.
McKinney became upset and loaded his firearm and placed it in his pocket. He then called a next-door neighbor with whom McKinney had a long friendship, and the friend came to the residence. McKinney didn’t tell his friend he was armed, nor was the gun in plain view.
Stayner, Cofer, and Stayner’s five-year-old son, no relation to McKinney, arrived at McKinney’s residence and Stayner exited the vehicle and walked toward the front door. Cofer, sitting in the front passenger seat, and the five-year-old, sitting in the back passenger side seat, remained in the car.
As Stayner approached the front door McKinney came out of the home and walked straight to the car where he began firing multiple times at Cofer. The 5-year-old, sitting directly behind Cofer during the gunfire, was uninjured.
Stayner began yelling that her child was inside the car and McKinney pointed the gun at her threatening her. Ultimately, McKinney, went back into the house where he barricaded himself.
McKinney’s friend and Stayner removed the 5-year-old from the car and contacted the PCSO. When deputies arrived, McKinney’s friend handed a cell phone to Deputy Brian Bates and told him McKinney was on the phone.
Deputy Bates was able to successfully convince McKinney to exit the residence where he was taken into custody safely.
Upon his arrest, McKinney admitted to the murder. Prior to this incident, McKinney had never been arrested.