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Man shot, killed by police ID'd; witness says he was 'a maniac'

LAWRENCEVILLE —Before Robert Coleman was shot and killed by a Gwinnett County police officer, the 30-year-old Flowery Branch resident stabbed a man he didn’t know and forced his way into another couple’s home.

Gwinnett County authorities released Coleman’s identity Monday, two days after his death during an altercation that ended with a police officer wounded. Few additional details about the actual shooting were made public, but incident reports provided insight into the events preceding it.

One witness “described the suspect as a maniac.”

According to documents, the man now identified as Coleman was at 3668 Willow Wood Way in unincorporated Lawrenceville Saturday afternoon, the guest of a man renting one of the house’s lower-level rooms. Coleman was reportedly there with at least three other men.

On or around 3:45 p.m., a couple was in their bedroom when Coleman — who they didn’t know — “banged on their door claiming her kids belonged to him.” The male victim opened the door and was immediately attacked.

“The suspect started … throwing his arms at him with a knife,” police said. The woman reportedly got the “small fixed blade knife” away from Coleman before he fled.

The male victim was stabbed in the chest and back but in stable condition.

By about 4:10 p.m., police believe Coleman was a quarter-mile away, outside a home at 3849 Smoke Mist Trace. A couple there called 911 to report a strange man banging on their front door.

The male resident told police that “when he looked out the window the suspect told him to let him inside.”

Instead, the couple ran out the back door and called authorities from a neighbor’s house. They were headed back to the front yard to check out the scene when they heard gunshots.

After seeing the door kicked in and encountering Coleman, both responding officers had fired shots, Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. Coleman was fatally wounded, but not before one of the officers was also injured.

The officer was treated for an unspecified leg injury and released from the hospital the same day.

“His injury is non-life threatening,” Smith said. “However, he will require further medical treatment before he is able to return to duty.”

Nothing further was released Monday regarding the shooting. Per department policy, both officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave and the shooting is being looked into by the Deadly Force Investigation Team.

Smith said that drug use by Coleman “seems likely” but had not been confirmed. No possible motive was provided for any of the Hall County’s man’s actions.

The shooting marked Gwinnett’s first homicide of 2014.