Tailgate Assault Leaves Matthew Shields Facing Manslaughter

The Westville man had his charges upgraded after Ryan Coyle, the victim of Shields' attack before a Jimmy Buffett concert in Camden last week, died Friday.

A Westville man now faces aggravated manslaughter and is in jail on $400,000 bail after the death of the victim of his one-punch assault before a Jimmy Buffett concert in Camden last week.

Matthew Shields, 21, was arraigned Tuesday on the upgraded charges, , 20, of Bellmawr with a single, unprovoked shot to the head from behind in Lot 9 outside the Susquehanna Bank Center.

Coyle suffered head injuries in the attack, and was on life support until Friday evening, when , just a few blocks from where the assault occurred. A postmortem exam by Camden County medical examiner Dr. Gerald Feigin ended up in a ruling of homicide by blunt-force trauma.

There’s substantial evidence Shields was the assailant, Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said, including videotaped statements from witnesses who pointed to him as Coyle’s attacker and an admission from Shields himself to the attack.

It was just before 7:30 p.m. when Shields slammed an elbow into Coyle’s head—a move witnesses described as a sneak attack—driving him to the concrete, Shah said. Shields then attacked a witness to the assault, Shah added.

“By all accounts, judge, this attack was completely unprovoked,” she told Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Brown Jr. in her argument for leaving bail at $500,000.

Shields’ attorney, Joseph J. Hoffman III, didn’t dispute the facts as Shah presented them, but said Shields’ lack of a weapon in the attack made it unlikely Shields was trying to do more than assault Coyle.

“That is not the type of conduct that strongly evidences an intent to kill,” Hoffman said.

That Shields initially turned himself into police, then stuck around after being bailed out on the original aggravated assault charge, despite knowing the charges were going to increase after Coyle’s death Friday night, makes him less of a flight risk, Hoffman said in arguing for a substantially reduced bail.

“While he was released, he did not flee, but remained in his hometown of Westville the entire time,” Hoffman said.

That argument didn’t have much effect on the judge, who noted Shields could face 10 to 30 years in prison if convicted on the charge of manslaughter.

“Given the severity of the charges and the nature of the charges I do believe that the defendant does pose somewhat of a flight risk,” Brown said.

In dropping the bail down to $400,000 cash or bond, Brown ordered Shields not to have any contact with Coyle’s family.

Shields, in an orange prison jumpsuit, sporting a close-cropped beard and short hair, was silent for most of the proceeding, answering, “Yes, sir,” to the judge twice.

Coyle's family issued a statement over the weekend expressing their heartbreak over his loss.

"Words are not enough to express the feeling of grief and loss that we have in losing Ryan," the statement read. "We appreciate the support and prayers of so many who have reached out and ask that you continue to pray for healing and peace."


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