GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County business owner and former NFL player is facing criminal charges after destroying his business and writing racial slurs on the walls in an attempt to make it look like a burglary, police say.
Authorities said officers were called to the Create and Bake Restaurant and Coughman’s Creamery on Duluth Highway on Wednesday to a report of burglary in progress.
Officers later went into the business and found graffiti including “racially-motivated" words, swastikas and “MAGA” spray-painted on the walls, among other damage.
Edawn Louis Coughman, the owner of the business, was arrested the next day.
Coughman played for several NFL teams from 2012 to 2016, including the Washington Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys and most recently the Arizona Cardinals.
Channel 2's Tyisha Fernandes was at the Create and Bake and Coughman's Creamery Friday, where she could still see the vandalism through the window. Flat-screen televisions were ripped off the walls and offensive slurs were still spray-painted on the walls.
Fernandes spoke to Cpl. Michele Pihera, with the Gwinnett County Police, who said they still aren't sure why Coughman may have targeted his own business.
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"We don't know if it was financial motivation or what the case is," Pihera said.
Pihera said a shopping plaza maintenance worker saw someone burglarizing the restaurant around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and called police. Some officers were already in the area and spotted a black truck without a license plate on it.
"We're so fortunate that somebody saw something weird, saw something suspicious, and called us," Pihera said.
Police pulled the truck over thinking it could be a possible burglary suspect. Coughman was driving.
"That's when they asked him about it, and he said he's the owner of the business," Pihera said.
When police searched the back of Coughman's truck, they found several flat-screen TVs that looked a little suspicious.
"The brackets were still attached and there was still drywall attached to the brackets, meaning, someone took them off very quickly," Pihera said.
When officers went inside the restaurant, they saw where TVs were probably ripped off the wall and they say racial slurs like "monkey" and the n-word -- as well as MAGA -- spray-painted everywhere.
Police said the paint was fresh and when they looked at Coughman's hands, they saw black spray paint.
Police learned he'd already contacted his insurance company.
"He had reported this incident to his insurance company prior to officers conducting that first pull-over," Pihera said. "He was attempting to leave that shopping center when our officers conducted that felony stop. Everything lined up for this perfect arrest."
Coughman has been arrested several times for different offenses. Reuters reported that Coughman was arrested for gun possession in Canada, where he also played football.
In 2016, police arrested his business partner, another NFL player, for selling alcohol after hours in their business without a license.
Coughman bonded out of jail. He's facing three charges including insurance fraud, making a false report and a tag violation for taking his plate off.
Police said he could face more charges.
Cox Media Group