Family, neighbors say shooting victim in home invasion is expectant father, hardworking

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A 25-year-old man was still being treated Monday night for life-threatening injuries after he was shot during a break-in at the western Rowan County home he shares with his pregnant wife.

Marcus Kauffman and his wife were returning from vacation around 10:20 a.m. Monday when they apparently interrupted a break-in at the home they rent in the 4200 block of Chenault Road, near Cleveland.

Kauffman was shot in the head and suffered further injury when his 2004 Acura struck a tree in a corn field beside the home after he chased the robber, a neighbor said.

His wife was not injured. It is not clear what items were taken from the home.

Friend and neighbor Alan Moon said Kauffman was a volunteer firefighter with Scotch Irish Fire Department in Woodleaf. Moon has also been a volunteer with Scotch Irish Fire Department.

Moon said he was at home Monday morning, but had no idea the events that unfolded one house over until friends began calling his wife to see if they were OK.

“It’s unbelievable. Marcus is a great guy,” Moon said outside the house.

He said it seems “bad things always seem to happen to good people.”

The Kauffmans have been married for less than two years and belonged to a singing group, said Edwin Yoder, who is a cousin of Kauffman’s wife.

“They are great people,” Yoder said.

Kauffman did woodworking at a company on Foster Road in Woodleaf where Yoder’s son also works, he said.

He said the couple volunteer with a prison ministry called Gospel Express Ministries.

A neighbor who didn’t want to be named said the Kauffmans are a close-knit Christian family, some of whom live nearby.

Rowan County Sheriff’s investigators say someone called 911 communications regarding a possible burglary in progress and the call ended. The caller said shots were being fired at the home. The call initially went through the Iredell County 911 Center, which then transferred the call to Davie County. Davie County 911 communications rerouted the call after immediately realizing the address was in Rowan County.

Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten said when the couple arrived home, Marcus got an uneasy feeling and took his wife a safe distance from the home. Friends say Kauffman took his wife, who is a few months pregnant, to a family member’s home.

Kauffman returned to the home, at some point followed the burglar, and crashed his vehicle. Kauffman’s vehicle had left the roadway, traveled through the corn field and struck a tree.

It wasn’t clear Monday exactly when Kauffman was shot, but authorities found bullet casings alongside the road by the corn field.

Investigators are seeking information on a teal or blue-colored car, possibly a Pontiac, which may have been broken down or appeared to be broken down in the area. The vehicle was operated and occupied by at least one black male, the Sheriff’s Office said.

While en route to the shooting, a Rowan Sheriff’s deputy was involved in a hit-and-run crash on Chenault Road at Silk and Tassel Row, about two and a half miles from the Kauffman’s home.

Deputy Mike Dixon was driving his marked patrol vehicle, a Dodge Charger, with blue lights and the siren on, when a minivan turned in his direction.

Dixon, who was traveling north on Chenault Road, swerved to miss hitting the van and struck a tree on the right side of the road. He received minor injuries.

N.C. State Highway Patrol Trooper B.P. Potts said William Edgar Russell, 70, of Phifer Road, was traveling east on Silk and Tassel Row when he failed to stop and turned left into the path of the deputy.

There was a small fire coming from the car, but Dixon was able to put it out with a fire extinguisher.

Potts said the deputy had a cut to the forearm. Dixon was able to call in the crash to dispatchers.

Russell was charged with failure to yield, leaving the scene of a collision, open container of an alcoholic beverage, expired tag and expired inspection sticker. He also had an alcohol restriction on his license, the trooper said.

Russell was not charged with driving while impaired, but there was alcohol in his system, Potts said.

A Highway Patrol helicopter, which was in the area searching for the burglary suspect, flew over the area in search of Russell’s white Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

Shortly after the crash, the helicopter spotted the van on Rary Road and followed the van to Russell’s home on Phifer Road where he was parked.

In addition to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Rowan EMS, Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department and Cleveland Police Department responded to the scene of the shooting.

Rowan County detectives continue to follow leads as they develop.

Several area schools were on temporary lockdown and students were not allowed outside their buildings. The lockdown was lifted in time for students to leave at the dismissal bell.

Investigators ask anyone who may have traveled Chenault Road on Monday between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to contact Lt. Chad Moose at 704-216-8687 or Sgt. Jason Owens at 704-216-8683. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this crime.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.