June 9, 2021 354 PM
KERRVILLE – Late last month, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office arrested Coleman Thomas Blevins for an alleged plot to carry out a mass shooting at a Walmart. The 28-year-old resident of Kerrville who was born and raised in Alpine is now facing a third degree felony terroristic threat charge.
Blevins was under investigation by law enforcement, who had contacted and spoken with him, and “confirmed his affiliation and networking with extremist ideologies,” the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said.
When their special operations division intercepted a message where Blevins allegedly said he planned to carry out a mass shooting at a Walmart, the office worked with the FBI to confirm his “capability of following through with the threat” and immediately went to arrest him on the night of May 28, using a warrant for a Terroristic Threat to Create Public Fear of Serious Bodily Injury to take him into custody.
The suspect was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $250,000 bond, and given a court appointed lawyer from the Hill Country Regional Public Defender Office to handle the case in Kerr County.
A warrant to search Blevins’ home led officers to find an assault weapon, ammunition, THC and books and flags associated with various radical ideologies. Among the items were a Saudi Arabian flag, Confederate flag, and others that displayed a swastika and Norse symbols that have been co-opted by neo-Nazis. A photo of the evidence showed Blevins also possessed a radical right wing novel that many who have carried out terrorist attacks have credited.
In Alpine, Coleman’s younger brother Cade Blevins first heard about the arrest on Facebook the day after it happened. “I didn’t know what to think,” the 21-year-old told The Big Bend Sentinel over the weekend. The arrest itself wasn’t shocking to him, he said, explaining, “It isn’t the first time he’s had issues with the law.”
Blevins had been arrested multiple times in Brewster County for substance issues, and a conviction for possession of a controlled substance left Blevins on felony probation.
Part of those terms included Blevins not being allowed to possess a firearm. When investigators discovered the assault weapon, 394th District Judge Roy Ferguson issued a warrant and revoked his community supervision for potentially violating the terms of his felony parole, setting a $50,000 bond on June 3.
But Cade and others close to Coleman are still trying to piece together how it all came to this. One person close to the family, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “He didn’t have the signs. He was sweet and kind to animals. He didn’t have a malicious side. Nobody ever thought he was evil or horrible.”
His brother said Blevins would occasionally articulate violent thoughts. “I always feel like he was joking, but he’d make these certain threats to people saying he’d shoot them or kill someone they know,” Cade said. “It was always this dark sense of humor he’s had. He’s not very good at social cues.”
Both his brother and the person close to the family said Blevins would intensely focus on areas of interest, reading high above his grade level, but lacking in other areas like motor skills and social cues.
The person close to the family wished there had been more education about mental health in Alpine, saying, “I think that in these smaller communities, you miss these signs when the kid exhibits excellence in one area,” the person said. “It was missed by his family and by the time they really started realizing there was a mental illness, he was beginning to self-medicate, and then the focus was keeping him alive.”
The family on multiple occasions sent Blevins to rehab facilities to treat drug abuse and suicidal thinking. Throughout that time, Blevins’ father Barry was a director at High Frontier, a facility for troubled adolescents in Fort Davis, but in Coleman, “they never saw what they thought was a problem or mental illness,” the person close to the family said.
Meanwhile, both individuals who spoke about Coleman said he would oscillate through religions and ideologies, becoming deeply entrenched before moving on to the next one. “When he was sober, he would medicate with religion,” the anonymous individual said. “He spent a year of his life in an ashram. He was Hindu, he became Buddhist, he studied the Quran and Islam, and was all in.”
His brother said Blevins had a need for community and acceptance. “He was an addict for years – heroin – and I think because of that he needs some kind of vice, and he finds that in other people a lot of times. It’s just unfortunate that the people he’s found as of late have been these right wing fascist type of people.”
“In the past two years or so he’s fallen down this radical right wing extremist rabbit hole and within that he did build some genuine animosity towards LGBTQ, people of color, everything like that,” Cade said. “So I don’t know how much of it was completely genuine or if he was trying to say stuff to make face with his new [expletive] fascist friends.”
One thing Cade was sure of was that his brother’s anti-Semitism was real. “I’ve tried to talk to him about this,” Cade said, “tried to get him help, we all have, but to no avail.”
Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha said in a news release that investigators “possibly saved many lives” when they interrupted the “unthinkable” shooting plot. “This case reminds us that we need to always be vigilant. Many think ‘that can’t happen here,’ and it was well on the way to happening,” he said.
KCSO Special Operations Division, the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kerrville PD Patrol Division and U.S. Secret Service worked in coordination to carry out the investigation and eventual arrest.
If convicted on a third degree felony charge, Blevins could face two to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000. If he is found to have violated his felony probation terms, which will be brought before the district judge in Brewster County, it could result in the judge sanctioning Blevins with jail time, sending him to a treatment facility or sentencing him up to four years in prison.
According to the news release by the KCSO, “The FBI or other federal authorities may seek federal charges in this case. As with all criminal cases, charges may be added or modified prior to trial.”
Blevins’ younger brother said he never thought his brother would be capable of carrying out a shooting, and finding out the reason for the arrest took him aback. “I knew he’d gotten into far right extremism, but I didn’t realize the extent of it,” said Cade. “It seems like he put together this weird ideology of extremist religious ideology as well as extremist political ideology.”
“I’m worried for him, like what’s going to happen to him, but of course I’m worried for what he may or may not have done, and just knowing that someone I knew could potentially have committed an atrocity like this – that alone is kind of terrifying,” Cade said. “I just pray that it’s not true.”