Murder Suspect Nabbed At Florida Beach After Stay-At-Home Order Lifted

Mario Matthew Gatti, 30, is accused of gunning down Michael Coover Jr. at an apartment building west of Pittsburgh in January.

Mario Gatti Pd

A murder suspect who went for a beachside stroll over the weekend in Florida was apprehended by law enforcement after spending months on the run. 

Mario Matthew Gatti, 30, was arrested on Sunday morning in Jacksonville Beach while taking a walk, days after state authorities lifted a stay-at-home order related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Gatti is wanted in Pennsylvania where he allegedly gunned down Michael Coover Jr. at a Westmoreland County apartment building near Pittsburgh, in January. He was handcuffed in swimming trunks after authorities approached him for lingering near a sand dune, according to ABC News

“This morning while officers patrolled the beach proper they captured a Fugitive from Justice, wanted in Arnold, Pennsylvania for Homicide,” Jacksonville Police Department said in a statement.

Gatti, who was considered armed and dangerous, had been at large since the Jan. 16 shooting, WTAE-TV reported

Jacksonville Beach Police weren’t immediately available for comment on Monday.

It’s unknown where Gatti immediately fled following Coover’s murder, but jail records indicate Gatti had been in Jacksonville Beach for three months. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reopened local beaches last weekend. In recent days, protests have erupted around the country over state restrictions related to the pandemic. 

It’s unknown when Gatti could be extradited back to Pennsylvania to face murder charges in Coover’s shooting death.

“It took him 48 seconds to go in that house and kill my cousin without him even acknowledging it,” Dakota Haynes, Coover’s cousin, said, according to Pittsburgh radio station KTKA. “So yeah I’d rather you be away for the rest of your life.”

Coover’s family said he had been shot multiple times while cooking dinner at an apartment in Arnold, Pennsylvania. 

A family man, who loved grilling steak, college football, scratch-off lottery tickets, and strawberry cake, Coover had a “big heart” and “beautiful smile,” according to his obituary. He was engaged to be married and had two children. He was killed “taking care of his family,” the obituary stated. 

“Oh, I’m so excited,” Haynes also told KTKA, referring to Gatti’s arrest. “It’s relief, it’s relief.”

Gatti was also charged with giving false information to law enforcement and drug possession, according to online jail records. He’s being held without bond at a Duval County jailhouse, authorities said. No court date appears to have been scheduled for his case. It’s unclear if the 30-year-old has retained legal counsel. 

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