GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- Gwinnett County Police arrested a former NFL player for allegedly staging a burglary and hate crime at his businesses in Lawrenceville.
When police showed up to the Create and Bake Pizzeria and the adjoining Cougman’s Creamery Wednesday night, they initially thought a burglary was in progress.
They saw a black pickup truck that matched the description left by a concerned caller. Driving the truck was 31-year-old Edawn Coughman.
“When the officers pulled him over, he was wearing gloves and a hoodie which is kind of suspicious since we’ve had one of the hottest weeks in September,” said Gwinnett County Police Corporal Michele Pihera. “ He also had a lot of flat screen televisions in the back of his truck,” she said.
Inside, the businesses were vandalized with racial slurs spray painted on all of the walls and doors. The N-word, the word monkey, images of swastikas, and MAGA (Make America Great Again) were painted all over the inside of the businesses. Coughman told police that his businesses had been burglarized earlier Wednesday and he was back that night, retrieving his items.
“When the officers went inside they could clearly tell that the paint smelled fresh,” Pihera said. “When they went up to touch it, it was wet. If the burglary and vandalism had happened earlier in the day like he told us then they paint would not have been wet,” Pihera added.
Coughman told police he did not report the alleged crimes to police, instead he reported it to his insurance company.
Police say they truck Coughman was driving belonged to a friend and the license plate had been removed, apparently to conceal the identity of the owner.
“While executing the search warrant, the license plate was inside the truck. It also revealed that there were two cans of spray paint and also a yellow crowbar the yellow crowbar is important because the back of the business there were yellow pry marks on the back door,” Pihera said.
Coughman was arrested but bonded out of jail. CBS46 went to Coughman’s home in Buford to hear his side of the story. He did not open the door.
Police say the hate crime and burglary was staged.
“This diminishes those cases where we have true victims of hate crimes,” Pihera said. “We wanted to make sure that we got in front of this to explain to the community that this was not a hate crime. We believe that Mr Coughman is responsible for all of the vandalism at his businesses,” she added.
Police have charged Coughman with false report of a crime, insurance fraud, and concealing a license plate.