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17-year-old is arrested in New Port Richey man's shooting death

NEW PORT RICHEY — Maile Burden doesn't sleep well.

She was awake in the wee hours Sunday, sitting at her computer drinking coffee, when a burst of popping sounds sent her diving to the floor.

She crawled to the front door of her Rye Street mobile home, she said, and peeked through the window. A man was lying in the yard.

"He was screaming, 'Help me, help me, help me,' " Burden said.

Joshua Gene Coggins lay dying with three bullets in his back. The shooter had run away.

Burden called 911, then went outside with blankets to put pressure on Coggins' wounds. She had never met him, though he lived on a nearby street in Griffin Park.

On Tuesday afternoon, Burden stood by as Coggins' family planted a tree in her yard to mark the spot where the 22-year-old was gunned down. She plans to tend to it and keep it alive.

Earlier in the day, Pasco sheriff's authorities arrested the man they believe pulled the trigger: 17-year-old Jason Brian Waterhouse, who also lives in Griffin Park, an area plagued by gang activity.

According to his arrest report, Waterhouse was arguing with his girlfriend outside their Altoona Avenue home about 3:30 a.m. Sunday when Coggins tried to intervene. An argument broke out, Coggins pulled a knife and Waterhouse brandished a gun. It wouldn't fire, so he took off running.

Coggins chased him, the report says, until Waterhouse climbed into a car and returned home. Then witnesses heard the three shots.

Investigators later found the knife but are still searching for the gun, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

A bail bondsman picked up Waterhouse on Monday night at a Comfort Inn on Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa on several unrelated charges, Doll said. Tampa authorities also arrested Samantha Acosta, Waterhouse's girlfriend, on a charge of marijuana possession.

Pasco detectives interviewed her and Waterhouse on Tuesday, then charged Waterhouse with manslaughter.

Doll said the charge appeared to be based on witness statements that Coggins had threatened Acosta with the knife. He added that prosecutors can always increase it.

Coggins' family is angry that the charge isn't more serious.

"It's b------- that it's going to be manslaughter and not first-degree murder," said Amanda Coggins, Joshua's 21-year-old sister. "He shot him in the back."

Amanda flew in from Chicago this week with her mother, Teresa Kuczera, and other family members to plant the tree and prepare for funeral services.

They were upset about previous media reports that detailed Coggins' criminal history. In February he was accused of kicking a pregnant woman and possessing marijuana.

"People are only getting the negative stuff," Kuczera said. "He was a good boy. He had his moments like every teenager."

She said Coggins was working toward earning his GED and planned to move to Chicago soon. He had lined up a job there as a carpenter.

Coggins' brother Dan ran into him at Gulf View Square mall on Saturday night, just hours before the shooting. Dan was on his way to a sushi dinner.

"He said, 'No, I'll stick with the good ol' American stuff,' " Dan remembered his brother saying.

As Kuczera watched Coggins' friends shovel dirt around the newly planted tree Tuesday afternoon, she said over and over that she hardly knew how to feel.

She has heard talk of retaliation for her son's killing. So has the Sheriff's Office, and Doll said authorities are watching the neighborhood.

Kuczera just wants the violence to stop.

"Enough is enough," she said. "One child is already gone. We don't need (anybody) else getting hurt."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

17-year-old is arrested in New Port Richey man's shooting death 04/15/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 9:57am]
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