ELYRIA — Police on Monday arrested a registered sex offender accused of gunning down an Elyria father on Sunday, the same day the shooting victim celebrated the graduation of one of his sons from Elyria High School.
Tove Adams, who goes by the street names of “L.A.” or “Shorty,” allegedly opened fire on a Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by 48-year-old Anthony Coats after he dropped someone off near Tattersal Court in Elyria around 10:45 p.m.
Police Capt. Chris Costantino said Adams, 42, fired a gun multiple times at the car, striking Coats. The Monte Carlo then drove a short distance before striking a utility box on West River Road near Lake Avenue.
James Thorne, an area resident, has said that he raced to the car and found the wounded man, later identified as Coats, inside. Coats was taken to EMH Elyria Medical Center where he died of his injuries.
Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans said Coats was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, although he declined to comment on how many times Coats was shot because the investigation is ongoing.
After firing the gun, Adams ran south along West River Road, Costantino said. Police dogs were brought in to track Adams, although they eventually lost the scent. Costantino said police briefly suspected Adams was at two different residences in the aftermath of the shooting, but that turned out not to be the case.
Costantino said Adams was arrested Monday evening after detectives received a tip leading them to 919 Sherwood Drive, where they found Adams outside standing next to a car. He was taken into custody without incident.
The people at the house, who knew Adams through their church, were unaware that he was being sought on murder and felonious assault charges, Costantino said.
Costantino said police don’t believe the shooting was drug-related, although he declined to discuss what motivated Adams to open fire.
“This was not a random act,” he said. “These are two people who knew each other.”
Coats had worked for roughly 20 years at the Burger King in downtown Elyria, where wanted posters of Adams hung on the doors Monday as police hunted the suspected gunman.
The restaurant’s general manager, Bill McCartney, called Coats his best employee. He would work the opening shift in Elyria before moving on to a second job at the Burger King in North Olmsted.
“He was a great person,” McCartney said. “Everybody loved him.”
Coats worked at Burger King with his brother, Clarence Coats, who could not be reached for comment Monday.
McCartney said he and the Coats brothers usually went to an Indians game together each year when the home team was facing the New York Yankees, whom Anthony Coats rooted for.
Victoria Stansberry, a friend of the Coats family, said she was shocked to learn about Anthony Coats’ death.
“He had a big heart,” she said. “He would help anybody out.”
Both Stansberry and McCartney said family was important to Coats. McCartney said Coats had just returned about a week ago from visiting his mother, who lives in Alabama, where the Coats family is from originally. He also said Coats had been proud of his son’s graduation from high school.
McCartney said he also knew who Adams is because the man sometimes came into the Burger King to get ice. He said he couldn’t comment further on Adams.
Court records indicate that Adams has prior convictions for drug trafficking and felonious assault. He was convicted in 2005 of sexual battery for molesting a 13-year-old girl he knew. He was acquitted of more serious rape charges in the same trial.
Adams denied wrongdoing in that case, which earned him two years in prison, according to court records.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.