Lexington, SC 01/28/2022 – On Thursday, January 27, 2022 Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard’s office announce that Mark Louis Cote, 71, of Lexington, SC pled guilty to Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature (ABHAN) for shooting a Lexington County Sheriff’s Department deputy. Cote was sentenced by Chief Administrative Judge Debra R. McCaslin to 12 years in prison. Cote also pled guilty to Domestic Violence Third Degree and Malicious Injury to Personal Property. Under South Carolina Law, ABHAN is classified as a violent, serious, and “no parole” offense.
In a prepared statement, Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard remarked that “a domestic violence call is one of the most dangerous calls that our law enforcement officers receive. They have a tough, and often, scary job, but they respond every time with courage. My office will continue to support and stand with our law enforcement officers. This deputy fortunately survived this shooting, but we all know it could have been far worse. We are thankful that justice was served today.”
According to Hubbard, on September 5, 2020, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to Eagleview Drive off Old Barnwell Road in central Lexington County in reference to a domestic violence complaint involving Cote and his wife. Cote’s wife reported that Cote assaulted her and pointed a firearm at her during the incident. During the investigation, Cote’s wife informed law enforcement that they were in a verbal altercation that turned physical after Cote found out that his wife was giving him prescription medicine without his knowledge. She reported to law enforcement that, that afternoon, Cote was drinking and smoking marijuana. She was able to leave the residence at this point. Cote then texted his wife saying that he was planning to burn things in the home. At that point, law enforcement was called.
Deputies quickly arrived on scene, and after announcing their presence, they were able to make verbal contact with Cote who was inside a garage attached to the home with the garage door closed. Cote refused to open the garage door and told deputies he was armed with a firearm. Moments later, Cote exited the front door of his residence brandishing a shotgun. That was later determined to be a 20-gauge Benelli shotgun loaded with birdshot. The deputy again announced that he was with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and ordered Cote to drop his weapon. Cote turned the shotgun in the deputy’s direction and the deputy was able to open fire on Cote with his department issued sidearm. A short gun battle ensued during which the deputy was struck in the head with the birdshot. Cote was not injured and retreated inside his residence. The deputy was able to get to safety and fortunately, survived his injuries.
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The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was contacted. They responded to the scene to conduct the investigation because a deputy had been involved. SLED’s SWAT Team members and negotiators attempted to get Cote to come out of his residence. During attempts to extract Cote from the residence using gas, Cote fired multiple shots through the garage door striking a SLED agent, who was not injured. SLED sent in a robot with a camera and Cote damaged it when he intentionally shot at it. Cote eventually surrendered after a standoff lasting over ten hours.
Cote appeared in Court Thursday morning in a wheelchair with one leg amputated and in deteriorating health. Through his attorney, he did apologize for his actions. Cote’s prior record included a larceny conviction from 1974. Cote was transported immediately to the South Carolina Department of Corrections to begin service of his prison sentence.
This case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Solicitor Sutania A. Fuller on behalf of the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office who expressed to the Court that “our law enforcement officers need to be supported and this type of conduct cannot be tolerated in Lexington County.”
Sheriff Jay Koon with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department was present at the proceeding and addressed the Court. Following the sentencing, Sheriff Koon remarked that “This sentence represents justice. I’m pleased the court accepted Cote’s plea and handed down a sentence that brings some peace to the deputy and his family. The deputy acted bravely during his encounter with Cote. Years of training ensured he responded according to policy and as any reasonable officer would when facing such a dangerous situation. Officers from across the Midlands rushed to the scene that night when word got out a deputy was shot. I’m grateful to all who responded and to SLED for handling the negotiations with Cote and bringing about a peaceful end to the standoff.”
The deputy that was injured also addressed the Court remarking that September 5, 2020, is a day that he “will never forget.” He further relayed to the Court the emotional and mental toll this shooting has on him.
PHOTO: Mark Louis Cote