Two students at Saint Charles East High School in Illinois, twin sisters Tiffany and Brittany Coffland, died Friday, March 10, in their St Charles condo from gunshot wounds police say were inflicted by their father, who called 911 to say he had shot them and was planning to shoot himself, the Aurora Beacon-News reports. They would have turned 17 today.
To honor them, a moment of silence was planned at the high school, which serves about 2,500 students, and student groups reportedly conducted vigil services.
“I’ve been in the profession for 22 years. I’ve never dealt with anything like this,” WBBM-TV (CBS affiliate) quoted Charlie Kyle, the school’s principal, as saying. “This is so inexplicable. Our goal is to help the kids process and deal with a very difficult situation. The twins were great girls. They will be missed so much.”
“RIP Tiffany Coffland and Brittany Coffland, true Saints undeserving of this tragedy. Please wear purple or blue tomorrow to honor them,” the school posted on its Facebook page Sunday. Grief counselors and three comfort dogs were at the school Monday.
The girls’ father, Randall Coffland, 48, was found dead at the scene from what Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound; his estranged wife, the girls’ mother, Anjum Coffland, 46, was treated at a local hospital for a gunshot wound to her leg.
Before attending St Charles East, the twins were students at Oswego High School for the first semester of their freshman year in fall 2014, according to the Beacon-News report that cited an email from District 308 in Oswego to families at the high school.
“We just admired them every single day,” the Daily Herald quoted a friend and fellow St Charles East student as saying as she prayed near the Cofflands’ home. “They were such amazing people. They had such innocent souls. They did not deserve anything like this to happen to them at all. You see them and they just instantly put a smile on your face. They made you feel like everything is good.”
The 911 call from Anjum to police, which occurred after Randall had shot the girls, is chilling. St Charles police said they responded to a report of domestic trouble at the location about a month ago, according to a report in the Daily Herald. The nature of that trouble in the family wasn’t immediately reported, though, as St Charles police didn’t release the February 9 report.
Murder-suicides aren’t as uncommon as I might like to believe as couples age. And the husband or father is almost always the shooter and makes the decision to carry out the act unilaterally. One analysis of 225 elderly murder-suicides found that 96 percent were perpetrated by the husband. Just Google “murder-suicide” and you’ll see a depressingly long list of domestic trouble in relationships that turned violent. If a gun is within reach, that violence can quickly escalate, as it did here. Often the husband is older and suffering from some medical or mental condition, and most of the incidents occur at home.
- Final arrangements for Brittany and Tiffany include visitation at Christ Community Church on Bolcum Road in St Charles Friday evening, March 17, and a private funeral. Arrangements are being handled by Yurs Funeral Home, St Charles. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in care of the funeral home to help Anjum cover expenses.