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Rowan firefighter dies after being removed from life support

By Hilary Trenda and Steve Lyttle
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
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Marco Kauffman and his wife.

Investigators obtained murder warrants against two men after a Rowan County firefighter who was shot Dec. 2 during an apparent burglary died Friday.

Marcus “Marco” Kauffman, 25, died shortly after his family removed him from life support, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

The warrants obtained Friday charge Khari Dewayne McClelland, 23, of Harmony and Jaylend Daquan Turner, 19, of Statesville with first-degree murder, Rowan County Sheriff’s Capt. John Sifford said. Both men had been charged with attempted murder.

McClelland and Turner are also each charged with breaking and entering, larceny of a firearm and larceny. Both are being held without bond at the Rowan County Detention Center. Their first court appearance on the new charges will be Monday.

Tramel Devon Hart, 18, and 25-year-old Michael Dwayne Teasley, both of Statesville, are jailed under $500,000 bond, and were initially charged with accessory after the fact. Their charges were also upgraded Friday to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

It was “with much sadness” that Sifford said the Sheriff’s Office learned Kauffman had died after the family’s decision to remove him from life support “due to serious and ongoing medical complications caused by the shooting.”

Kauffman was shot in the head on the morning of Dec. 2 as he and his wife returned home after a Thanksgiving weekend trip.

Kauffmanwas rushed to Carolinas Medical Center after the shooting and battled for his life for nearly three weeks. His wife Maryann and other family members and friends have kept the public updated on a Facebook page.

On Thursday, the family said doctors had decided to test Kauffman for brain activity. If they found none, the family said, doctors would recommend that Kauffman be removed from life support.

“Marcus burst into heaven at 12:52 p.m. Our loss is so painful, but we know this was (a) gain for Marcus,” said the family’s Facebook update, made around 3:30 p.m Friday.

“Tears and grief are eased by the gentle hand of God, holding us, carrying us, wiping our tears. ‘As for God, His way is perfect.’ 

The Sheriff’s Office said Marcus and Maryann Kauffman were returning home the Monday after Thanksgiving when they saw a car parked in front of their home on Chenault Road, near the Cleveland community in the far western part of the county. Marcus Kauffman left his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, at a neighbor’s house.

Investigators said Kauffman returned to his home and called 911 moments later, reporting that someone was taking items from the house. Then he told the 911 operator that someone was firing at him.

Investigators said Kauffman was trying to drive away when someone shot through the back window of his car. The bullet hit Kauffman in the head, and his car crashed into a tree.

According to arrest warrants, the suspects took computers, a game station and a handgun from the Kauffmans’ residence. The computer was found by police a day later in Statesville, and the gun, a .45-caliber Glock, was later recovered at a home in Iredell County, investigators said.

Rowan County deputies made four arrests over the next several days. The gun was sent to the State Bureau of Investigation for forensics testing to determine whether Kauffman was shot with his own gun, officials said.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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