From the first time little Cody Coffman squeezed his tiny hand inside a baseball mitt, his dad Jason became the go-to guy for pointers or a game of catch.
“Ever since my son was 3 years old, I coached him — all the way up to high school baseball,” the devastated dad recalled Thursday morning after his oldest boy died in a mass shooting inside a California country-western bar.
“I cannot believe this is happening in my family,” continued Coffman, leaning on his father-in-law for support as he talked to reporters Thursday. “I am speechless and heartbroken. I am spent.”
Jason, wearing a grey Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap, said his 22-year-old son was gunned down for no apparent reason as he walked up to buy a round of drinks for his pals inside the jam-packed Borderline Bar & Grill.
“I talked to him last night before he headed out the door,” recalled Jason before breaking down in tears. “I told him ‘Don’t drink and drive.’ And the last thing I said was, ‘Son, I love you.’
“That was the last thing I said. I just want him to know that he’s going to be missed … (He leaves) a legacy of love, of laughter.”
Cody’s friends came by the Coffman house in Camarillo, Calif., after they escaped the carnage – only to realize their friend was missing. The gunman executed 11 bar patrons and a police officer before killing himself.
Calls to Cody’s phone then rang unanswered, and his dad reported the young man to police as among the missing.
An agonizing wait of several hours followed, ended only by the even more painful news of Cody’s death. The victim had died at the blood-soaked scene of the rampage.
“His life was cut short at too young an age,” said his grandfather Mike Johnston. “Life is fragile, precarious. Life is sacred. I can’t comprehend this.”
Cody’s dad declined to comment on the shooter who took his eldest boy’s life, saying only: “I feel sorry for his parents.”
He said he lost not only a son but a lifelong sidekick when Cody was killed.
“He was my fishing buddy, and that poor boy would come with me whether he liked it or not,” the father recounted. “I’ll miss the companionship I had with my son.”