ALAMOSA — If Brian Cooper had let authorities know who stabbed him on the morning of June 23, 2016, Floyd Dale McBride would have been arrested on assault charges — instead of dead.
This was one of the points Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig made to the court during a preliminary hearing on Thursday morning. At the conclusion of the hearing Alamosa County Judge Daniel Walzl bound over to district court several felony charges against Cooper in conjunction with McBride’s death, which is believed to have been a retaliatory action for McBride’s stabbing of Cooper.
Brian’s father Lonnie, 43, is charged with shooting McBride on the morning of June 23, 2016, a few hours after McBride, 52, stabbed Brian Cooper, 24. McBride bled to death following the shooting. Testimony on Thursday indicated Brian Cooper would also have bled to death that morning as a result of his stab wounds if he had not received medical assistance as quickly as he did.
Brian Cooper did not tell authorities who stabbed him and was uncooperative with the medical staff and law enforcement, Alamosa Police Corporal Tate Kindschuh testified on Thursday. Kindschuh responded to the SLV Regional Medical Center at about 5 a.m. last June 23 regarding a report of a stabbing. Medical staff told Kindschuh a male victim had been stabbed multiple times. He had wounds on his leg and lacerations to his head, Kindschuh said.
Kindschuh added that Brian Cooper was initially very uncooperative and told him he didn’t know what happened to him, but when his father Lonnie told him to speak to the officer Brian Cooper told Kindschuh that he had been jumped by two Black guys on the south side of town somewhere in the area of Boyd Park.
As Brian Cooper related that information to Kindschuh, the corporal saw him look over to his father and half smile, Kindschuh said.
“I took that to mean he was giving me false information or feeding me some kind of story,” Kindschuh said.
Corporal Kindschuh obtained what information he could from Brian Cooper and left the emergency room, where Brian and Lonnie Cooper remained along with Brian Cooper’s girlfriend Naomi Olguin. Brian’s brother Devin Cooper went into the room after Kindschuh left, he said.
Kindschuh said he and Alamosa Police Department Sergeant Brian Cooper then remained at the hospital talking outside on the ambulance ramp. When they saw Lonnie and Devin Cooper leave the hospital, along with a man later identified as Cristo Esquibel, and run to their vehicle, they followed. The Cooper vehicle wound up at the Coopers’ residence on Main Street, Kindschuh said. Sgt. Cooper and Corp. Kindschuh watched until the vehicle left the residence again.
Alamosa County Sheriff Corporal Sam Coffman also testified on Thursday. He said the sheriff’s office became involved on June 26 when McBride’s mother reported him missing.
Coffman said he watched hospital surveillance footage that included the initial arrival of Brian Cooper early on the morning of June 23, 2016, after he had been stabbed and the arrival of family members such as his parents and his brother Devin Cooper.
Coffman described Brian Cooper’s injuries and said if he had not gone to the hospital when he did, he would have bled to death. Coffman said he interviewed numerous individuals including Theodora Travers who identified McBride as the one who stabbed Brian Cooper with a knife or small sword. Coffman said he understood McBride and Brian Cooper were acquainted and McBride was a customer of Cooper’s.
Travers was the one who also told Brian’s father Lonnie who stabbed Brian. Travers told authorities Lonnie Cooper took her at gunpoint to show him where McBride was and on the way changed course because Lonnie Cooper told Travers he had “intel” of where McBride was. Travers was with Lonnie Cooper and Esquibel when they arrived at the residence where McBride was. Coffman said Travers said she saw Lonnie Cooper go into the residence with a .223 or Army rifle. She ducked into a bedroom but heard a shot and saw Esquibel run past and subsequently saw Lonnie Cooper dragging McBride out of the house on a rug. McBride was begging for his life at that point, Coffman reported. McBride was then moved to another location where he ultimately died while inside the van in which he had been transported.
Coffman said the information he received through interviews and investigation in this case indicated that McBride’s body was then transported to the Mogote area where it was initially buried and then exhumed and re-buried near San Luis. That is where authorities recovered McBride’s body, which had been wrapped in a tarp and bound by chicken wire and ropes.
Coffman said Brian Cooper was still at the hospital when McBride was shot. Brian Cooper was discharged from the hospital about 10 a.m. that morning, Coffman said, and left with his mother.
Coffman also viewed text messages obtained as a result of a warrant from Olguin’s phone. These messages include texted conversations between Brian Cooper and Olguin, Coffman testified. Some of the conversations were requests from Brian Cooper for Olguin to obtain some food and something to drink for him because he was thirsty, and Olguin responding that she could not because he might have to go into surgery.
Text messages around 8 a.m. and for several minutes following revolved around incidents at the Old Airport Road address where Lonnie Cooper allegedly found and shot McBride. Corp. Coffman said Brian Cooper texted his girlfriend warning her to stay away from that property and to “get the f—away from there” and she responded “too late hon … was on my way going out the back and then everything happened.”
Coffman said he believed McBride was shot around 8:20 a.m. on June 23, 2016.
Around 8:30 a.m. hospital footage shows Esquibel going into the hospital holding his eye, Coffman testified. Esquibel was believed to have been caught in the crossfire when Lonnie Cooper shot McBride, and Esquibel lost his eye.
In requesting that Brian Cooper’s charges be forwarded on to district court, McCuaig said regarding a felony accessory to a crime (in this case murder) after the fact charge and tampering with evidence charge, Brian Cooper helped move McBride’s body from one burial place to another in an effort to avoid detection.
Regarding conspiracy to commit murder after deliberation, Brian Cooper did not share with authorities McBride’s name, and if he had, McBride would have been arrested that morning for assault, and Brian Cooper’s text messages also indicated he knew something was going to happen to McBride, McCuaig stated.
Brian Cooper’s attorney argued that an obstruction charge might be more appropriate than conspiracy to commit murder since there appeared to be no evidence of an agreement or instructions to carry out McBride’s murder.
He said there was no shred of evidence of conspiracy or that Brian Cooper was part of a plan to retaliate against McBride. He said it was clear that Brian Cooper realized his dad was mad but not clear that Brian Cooper knew what his father was going to do about it.
He added that Brian Cooper’s text messages to his girlfriend indicated his concern for her, not that he knew there was going to be a murder.
Judge Walzl said at this stage he had to view the evidence and testimony during the preliminary hearing in a light most favorable to the prosecution. He said the text messages carried significant weight with him.
He bound over the charges against Brian Cooper and scheduled his first appearance in district court for June 20.
Cooper will also appear on June 20 on a separate case that Judge Walzl also bound over following a preliminary hearing on Thursday. In that case Brian Cooper, assuming the role of a bounty hunter, is accused of kidnapping and assaulting a man who had a warrant out on him. Cooper and Gilbert Montano, who has already been sentenced for his part in the incident, allegedly apprehended the victim, beat and kicked him and tied him up, threatened to kill him, and transported him to a bail bondsman who then delivered him to the jail last September. The jail staff would not accept him at the time because of his injuries, and he was first transported and treated at the hospital.