Man, 59, charged in Cordova parking-lot killing
By Jody Callahan (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, February 8, 2009
An argument and a gun, a flash and a crack, and just like that, three children were made orphans.
That's what happened in the parking lot of the Trinity Commons shopping center in Cordova around 9 p.m. Friday, police said.
Police charged Harry Coleman, 59, with second-degree murder Sunday in the shooting of Robert "Dutch" Schwerin, 52, after the pair argued over how close their vehicles were parked.
Schwerin died in the parking lot, leaving behind two sons, Dallas, 21, and Colt, 19, and a daughter, Savannah, 15. Emilie Schwerin, his wife and their mother, died in 2004 from medical problems.
Schwerin was a mechanic at FedEx for 21 years and a co-owner of Dacosa Speedway in Byhalia, a go-kart track modeled after Talladega Superspeedway.
"He was all they had, after their mother passed away," said the victim's brother, John "Butch" Schwerin.
Dallas and Colt are both college students, but what will happen to Savannah, a student at St. Agnes, hasn't been determined yet.
"We're working through that. We haven't come up with anything concrete yet," Butch said. "I think that she'll end up staying in their (Arlington) home."
The incident apparently began outside the Villa Castrioti restaurant, where Schwerin and his children were celebrating the birthdays of his father and father-in-law.
But on the way out, according to Dallas, Schwerin and a woman began arguing over how close his GMC Yukon Denali was to her Hummer.
At that point, Harry Coleman joined the argument, which then seemed to dim. But then it boiled over again, Dallas said, leading Coleman to reach into the Hummer for his gun. He then walked back to where Schwerin stood and shot him in the torso, according to the police affidavit.
Police took him into custody there and found the gun in his back pocket.
Coleman, who is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. today, was granted a state permit to carry a handgun in June 2006.
A woman answering the phone at the Colemans' Cordova home Sunday declined to comment.
Sunday night, the Schwerin family was still trying to absorb the loss.
"It's just a very, very sad time for us. It was totally uncalled for," said the victim's mother-in-law, Mary Rentrop. "It leaves his children without a parent."
His father-in-law wasn't happy that Coleman is only facing second-degree murder charges.
"I don't understand what first or second-degree is. He just shot the man. My son-in-law didn't have a gun or anything," William Rentrop said.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Louis Catholic Church. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Memphis Funeral Home Poplar.