Aplington-Parkersburg Football Coach Ed Thomas was shot and killed Wednesday, June 24 inside the school as athletes were lifting weights, according to the district superintendent. Thomas was flown to Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa after he was shot according to a hospital statement
No students were injured, although about 50 students were present at the time of the shooting. "They did witness this and so we have counselors at the site to talk with the kids." Superintendent Jon Thompson told KOEL radio.
The gunman, Mark D. Becker, 24, is being held in Butler County Jail, he has been charged with first-degree murder.
Becker is a former A-P student and former football player. Authorities would not release a motive in the slaying. The shooting was reportedly witnessed by up to 20 people in the weight room. Authorities say no one else was threatened during the shooting after it happened Becker left and went back to his parents house.
Thomas just finished his 37th season of coaching. He has a career record of 292-84, including 156-31 as Aplington-Parkersburg's head coach. He has won two state titles - 1993 and 2001.
Altogether Thomas has led A-P to 19 state playoff appearances. Thomas' win total ranks ninth all-time amongst Iowa high school football coaches, Thomas originally began his coaching career at Northeast Hamilton in Blairsburg. In 2003 he was the NFL High School Coach of the Year.
Coach Thomas has four former players active in the NFL - Brad Meester of Jacksonville; Jared DeVries; Casey Wiegmann of Denver; Aaron Kampman of Green Bay. DeVries, a defensive end with the Lions, walked off the field in Allen Park, Mich., toward the end of a morning practice, apparently shaken. Team officials said DeVries was not immediately available for comment.
Thomas made national headlines last year when he insisted that the high school's football field, named in his honor, be rebuilt as a way to help restore community pride in Parkersburg after it was hit by a powerful tornado in May 2008 that killed six people and destroyed the high school.
Former Cyclones head coach Dan McCarney, now an assistant coach at Florida, told the Register he remembered his association with Thomas fondly.
"When Ed said a kid could play, you knew that the kid was going to be a player. Even if Ed said he had someone that might be worth a look as a walk-on, you made a special trip up there to see him. Ed's one of the nicest people I've ever known. He had so much class, and so much character."
As high school players Ryan and I played against Coach Ed Thomas and although they beat us every time we played, it was an honor to play against a legendary coach such as himself. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as the Aplington-Parkersburg community which had just begun recovering from the tornado in May 2008