Suspected robber killed by homeowner

By Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Chris Parenteau, General assignment reporter, cparenteau@wjxt.com
Crystal Moyer, Morning assignment desk, backup traffic reporter, cmoyer@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 15 2014 08:00:00 AM EDT

As an Arlington homeowner recovers from a struggle with a potential robber who was shot and killed, the victim's body is removed from the home and detectives search for evidence.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Police said a homeowner shot and killed a man Wednesday morning who tried to break into his Arlington home about dawn on Friday.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the man, 21-year-old Marquise Trevel Yates, broke into a home on Seabrook Cove Road, off Arlington Expressway, about 6:30 a.m. and threatened the homeowner, 50-year-old Foster Coker, at gunpoint.

Police said there was a struggle between Yates (pictured below) and Coker, but Coker was able to get away.

"The homeowner was able to retrieve a firearm and the suspect of the robbery was deceased at the scene," said Sgt. Michael Paul.

According to the police report, Coker retrieved his personal firearm and exchanged gunfire with Yates. Coker's wife, Pam, also fired her personal handgun at Yates, who died at the scene.

The Cokers were taken to UF Health with non-life-threatening injuries consistent with blunt force trauma, according to JSO.

“If we had not had a gun in our home, we would be dead,” Pam Coker said from the hospital Friday. “I'm convinced of that. That guy was strong and he was not going to stop. Nothing was going to stop him.”

Pam Coker said she was getting ready for work when Yates kicked in the deadbolted wooden back door and burst into the home.

“He came at me, was chasing me,” Pam Coker said. “Had a gun in his hand.”

She said Yates pushed her down. She screamed for her husband, who jumped out of bed and over Pam, struggling for the gun as Yates bit his finger and beat him.

“He just wouldn't stop,” Pam Coker said. “The guy wouldn't stop. He just kept fighting. He hit my husband in the head really bad several times (with the gun) and busted his head. So I got our gun and we had to shoot him.”

The Cokers' 7-year-old grandson was in the home at the time. He was not hurt.

“We told him to stay in the bedroom,” Pam Coker said. “And when the policemen came they went inside the bedroom and put a blanket over him and took him out.”

The couple's daughter, Amber Olsen, who couldn't stop shaking, called her parents heroes.

“The whole thing, it'll shake anybody up,” Olsen said. “You never think in a million years something like this is going to happen to your family, especially your mother with your child in the house, and they protected him with their lives.”

“I'm sad for the person who thought they should do something like that, and I'm sad for us that we had to experience something like that,” Pam Coker said. “It was horrible. No one wants to hurt somebody, but if you have to do it to keep from being killed, you have to do it.”

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the random home invasion sounds like a crime of opportunity.

“A lot of times when people are doing home invasions, one thing they're looking for is a quick and easy escape route,” Smith said. “This house is near the corner, very close to the expressway, so his plan was to probably take what he can take, get into his vehicle and get onto the Arlington Expressway."

Investigators taped off an area of Seabrook Cove Road at Arlington Expressway.

"Very shocking. Too close to home. I have little kids," neighbor Jamieal Brooks said. "We all need to just stop and live together and stop doing all this violence."

A couple weeks ago, burglars broke into ITC Auto Sales across the street. They cut the power and stole seven cars, ramming them through the fence.

“They took the meter from the electric system, which means they crippled the power and any surveillance we have was inoperable at that time,” said Ahmed Neenia of ITC Auto Sales. “They definitely knew what they were doing."

“There was a time when Arlington was an absolutely beautiful place to live,” Pam Coker said. “And it's turned into nothing but gangs and crime, and decent people are being chased out."

The JSO Homicide Unit is investigating the death and the State Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case.