Man charged in wife's shooting death, wreck

A Union County man is charged with murder in the shooting of his estranged wife after police say he forced her into a car that then crashed into a wall near the Waxhaw Police Department.

Gregory Coffey, 41, is charged with first-degree counts of murder and kidnapping in the death of Towanda Lashawa Chambers Coffey, Lt. Brad Coan said. In June, Gregory Coffey had been ordered by a judge to stay away from his wife.

The incident began around 6 p.m. Tuesday, when police say Gregory Coffey approached his 32-year-old wife in a convenience store parking lot near downtown Waxhaw. Witnesses told police the man forced the woman into the car, then got in the back seat and pointed a gun at the back of her head.

The two drove off, but minutes later the car struck a brick wall outside the Captain's Galley restaurant on N.C. 75, in the same shopping center as the Waxhaw Police Department.

When police arrived, they found the woman dead from a gunshot wound, and the man on the ground outside, with cuts and bruises. Witnesses said the man shouted several times, “It was an accident.”

Police did not disclose a possible motive.

Coffey and Chambers Coffey had been married since 2005. In June, he was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female, according to court records. District Attorney John Snyder said Chambers Coffey failed to show for a June 24 hearing in that case.

"We moved to continue the case, but our request was denied," Snyder said this morning.

Chambers Coffey had been convicted of several felony and misdemeanor charges since 1992, including assault with a deadly weapon and financial-card theft, according to court records.

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.