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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - April 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk Count
y Publishing Company

Fallen LPD officer to be remembered Sunday
Polk County Enterprise - April 2009
LIVINGSTON — One year ago Sunday, Offi cer Caran Coward became the only Livingston Police Offi cer ever killed while on duty. The 365 days have been diffi cult for her children, parents, grandparents and friends. Caran was talking to her mother Doris Sheffi eld at about 8 p.m. April 26, 2008 as she drove into the driveway of her home just outside the Livingston city limits to talk to her husband, Randy Coward. In an interview Tuesday, Sheffi eld said she had talked to Caran on the phone three times that day about her daughter’s decision to seek a divorce. “I could hear him in the background and she said she would have to call me back. Then she said ‘I love you’ and I told her I loved her too. Then 30 minutes later I got a phone call.” That call was from fellow law enforcement offi cers telling Sheffi eld that Caran had been fatally shot. Dispatchers at Livingston Police Department sent all available offi cers to Coward’s residence after she requested backup in a brief radio transmission. Offi cers found Caran with a fatal gunshot wound, and her badge had been ripped from her uniform. Randy Coward had a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Investigators found a large number of loaded weapons at the scene possibly in preparation for a standoff with the offi cers responding to Caran’s call for help. The investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Offi ce said evidence indicated the shooting was a murder/suicide by Randy Coward. Caran was 39 and Randy 43. While PCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division collected evidence at the Coward home, extra PCSO patrol deputies reported for duty to relieve LPD offi cers for the night and continued to share patrol duties with the city’s offi cers until her funeral. Caran’s daughter Megan, now 16, and the couple’s older son Philip, now 10, were taken to the home of PCSO Det. Christi Allen, where the Coward’s youngest child, Nathaniel was spending the night with Allen’s children to celebrate his birthday. The children now live with Caran’s mother in another East Texas county. They work on adjusting to life without their parents and being in a new school, Sheffi eld said. The proud grandmother says Nathaniel has rallied as the school year progressed and is the best little boy and has always been a straight A student. Megan will \be 17 in June and she is looking ahead to college. With all the stress of the past year, Sheffi eld said Megan will forego the more rigorous advanced placement classes next year. “Being 17 is hard enough without all the other stuff Megan has been through,” Sheffield said. Philip still does not accept the results of the investigation into his parents’ death. “He just cannot believe his father shot his mother — and that’s OK for now.” Sheffield said. It’s still hard for Sheffield to believe too. “She was my best friend. I always knew I could rely on her and she would be there if mom needed anything,” Sheffield said. “This was such a shock. I prepared myself for something happening on the job, but not this.” Sheffield remembers her daughter as always determined to conquer whatever goal was in front of her. “At 6 months old I swear she stood up and started walking. She never crawled and I had to chase after her until the day she left my house,” Sheffield said. Caran worked in the medical field and decided to enter the police academy in 2004 when she was in her mid 30s. “Her co-workers hated to see her leave and it surprised me,” Sheffield said. Caran and her sister Stacy had plenty of exposure to the inner workings of the law enforcement profession as teenagers since their mother worked for Lumberton Police Department and the sheriff’s department. “They were in and out of the P.D. and the police chief’s son was the same age as Stacy. But when she decided to go into law enforcement I thought ‘Oh, my God. You’re 30-something. Are you sure you want to do this?’ But she was determined. She conquered everything she tried. She was determined to graduate at the top of her police academy class at Angelina College. “She got a little nervous right before graduation because there was one guy that was within one point of her, but she beat him and got valedictorian.” “I don’t think she realizes what a big hole she left in this family,” Sheffield said. Her biggest love other than her children was for her animals and the beach. She was a very caring person and had a lot of empathy towards people.” “It’s hurtful, day by day. When she filed for divorce we talked and she said she didn’t know how she could manage a law enforcement career and being a single mother. I told her if I would move (to Livingston) and if we had to work three jobs each we would raise these kids. Then came the one time I couldn’t be there to help her.” Sheffield she was aware that Randy had tried to provoke Caran into physical violence as their marriage seemed to be ending. Any reports of family violence would end Caran’s career and may have prevented her from obtaining a protective order. If her petition resulted in a mutual protective order she would not be permitted to carry a firearm, which would leave her out of work. During that troubled time, Sheffield said her grandchildren saw things that she wasn’t aware had happened. She said she is working to re-teach her grandchildren that everything is not mean and hateful. “I tell them, You can be mad at me and I’ll still love you. There is nothing you can do or say that will change that.” They don’t know who to lash out at and I’m the nearest person.”



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