Leslie Coffelt (Leslie William Coffelt)

Leslie Coffelt

Leslie WCoffelt (August 15, 1910 – November 1, 1950) was an officer of the White House Police, who was killed while defending U.S. President Harry S. Truman against an armed attack on November 1, 1950 at Blair House, where the president was living during renovations at the White House. Leslie Coffelt was wounded during the assassination attempt, which two Puerto Rican nationalists carried out. Though mortally wounded by three bullets, Coffelt returned fire moments later and killed one of the attackers with a single shot to the head. The other was convicted by a federal jury and sentenced to death; Truman commuted the sentence to life imprisonment and the man was released from jail in 1979. Acknowledging the importance of the question of Puerto Rico’s status, Truman authorized a plebiscite in Puerto Rico in 1952 to determine its relationship to the U.S. The people voted to continue as a U.S. Commonwealth, as established in 1950.

On November 1, 1950 would-be assassins Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, Nationalists who supported the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States, attacked officers at the Blair House in order to assassinate President Truman. He was living there because of a major renovation at the White House for structural problems. Torresola approached from the west side while Collazo engaged Secret Service agents and White House policemen from the east. Torresola approached the guard booth at the west corner of the Blair House and fired at Coffelt from close range. His three shots struck Coffelt in the chest and abdomen, mortally wounding him. A fourth shot passed through the policeman’s tunic. Torresola shot two other policemen before running out of ammunition, then moved to the left of the Blair House steps to reload. Leslie Coffelt went out of his booth and fired at Torresola from 31 feet away, hitting him behind the ear and killing him instantly. Coffelt limped back to the booth and blacked out. He died of his wounds four hours later in a hospital.

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Born

  • August, 15, 1910
  • USA
  • Oranda, Virginia

Died

  • November, 01, 1950
  • USA
  • Washington D.C.

Cause of Death

  • gunshot wounds

Cemetery

  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Arlington, Virginia
  • USA

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