CCSO Arrests Salem Man for Illegal Sale of Assault Rifle Used in Murder/Suicide

A follow-up investigation in the wake of a March 7 murder/suicide has led to the arrest of the man who illegally sold the semi-automatic rifle used in the killing.

On March 7, 2018, David Cote murdered Bethany Schuch outside a residence on Alderwood Drive in West Linn, shooting her multiple times with an SKS semi-automatic rifle. Cote then committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound.

During the murder investigation, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office investigators obtained access to Cote’s phone. This led to an investigation of Justin Joseph Coleman, 34, of Salem.

Until May 2018, Justin Coleman operated a side business out of his home as a federally licensed firearms dealer.

Authorities developed probable cause that Coleman illegally sold Cote the SKS rifle used in the March 2018 murder.

In a legal gun sale, Coleman would have filled out an ATF Form 4473 and initiated a background check on Cote before allowing him to purchase a registered firearm.

Instead, in February 2018, Coleman sold Cote an unregistered SKS rifle for an undisclosed amount of cash. This weapon was later used to murder Bethany Schuch.

On May 23, Sheriff’s Office detectives, ATF agents, and Salem PD officers served a warrant at Coleman’s Salem residence. Authorities recovered evidence of the illegal sale.

Coleman’s Federal Firearms License (FFL) was revoked that same day. Authorities also uncovered evidence that Coleman was illegally dealing anabolic steroids.

After further investigation, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office arrested Justin Coleman at his Salem residence on Dec. 12. He was booked into Marion County Jail on charges including Possession of a Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Firearms Transfer by Unlicensed Person. Bail was set at $20,000.

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