Man killed in Florida mall tried to shield woman, police say

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 18, 2015 6:13 PM

(Reuters) - Police on Sunday identified a man shot to death at a Florida shopping mall on Saturday and said he was apparently trying to protect a woman who was wounded in the attack.

Leonardo Coppola, 36, died when a gunman went to a store at the Melbourne Square Mall intending to shoot the gunman's wife, the Melbourne Police Department said in statement.

Police could hear shots when they responded to a report of gunfire and inside the mall found Jose Garcia-Rodriguez, 57, of Palm Bay; his wife, Idanerys Garcia-Rodriguez, 33; and Coppola, who died from his wounds.

"Initial reports indicate Mr. Coppola was attempting to move Idanerys Garcia-Rodriguez out of harm’s way when he was shot," the police statement said. Coppola was the owner-operator of a restaurant at the mall, the statement said.

The mall in Melbourne, on Florida's east coast, was closed after the shooting, but reopened on Sunday.

Jose Garcia-Rodriguez was killed by a self-inflicted wound and his wife, who appeared to be the target of the shooting, was in good condition on Saturday, Melbourne police commander Vince Pryce told a news conference.

Police said Jose Garcia-Rodriguez had pockets full of ammunition and they found three handguns at the scene.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Eric Walsh)