Football news hits hard: Famed coach shot in Iowa, ex-player charged


PARKERSBURG, Iowa (AP)—Police say a 24-year-old man charged with murdering a prominent Iowa high school football coach was supposed to be taken to taken to a hospital psychiatric ward after taking a baseball bat to a Cedar Rapids home Saturday night and leading police on a car chase.

Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson says Butler County Sheriff’s deputies were supposed to take Mark Becker to a hospital psychiatric unit after the Saturday night incident.

Olson says Becker was released at some point but that his department wasn’t notified.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the deputies took Becker to the hospital. The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the matter.

Becker is charged with first-degree murder in the Wednesday slaying of Aplington-Parkersburg High School football coach Ed Thomas. Authorities say Becker, a former player, walked into the high school weight room and unloaded several shots into Thomas in front of some current players.

Becker was charged Monday with eluding police pursuit.


Coach Ed Thomas died this morning from injuries he sustained after being shot at around 7:45 a.m., Superintendent Jon Thompson said. Thomas was in the school’s weight room with 30 players who were working out in preparation to the fall football season.

School business manager Pat Gosch told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that Thomas was shot in the head at point-blank range.

Thomas died shortly after arriving by helicopter at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa, a hospital spokeswoman said.

“I’ve sobbed. I’ve cried. I’ve hugged my son. It’s a senseless deal,” Thompson, the superintendent, said. His son, Alec, graduated this spring from Aplington-Parkersburg High School.

Thompson said grief counselors from around the area are at the elementary school providing counseling to the players, none of whom were injured.

A review of online court records shows that Mark Daryl Becker, 24, had been arrested Sunday by Parkersburg police on a felony charge of eluding. The court file relating to the charges against Becker wasn’t immediately available to reporters, according to the Butler County Clerk of Courts office.

That charge was one of four filed against Becker by police on Sunday including charges of speeding, reckless driving and failure to obey a stop sign.

Online court records also indicate that Becker pleaded guilty to charges of assault causing injury, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal mischief in the fourth degree in Black Hawk County in January and February. His toughest sentence was a four-day jail term with the remaining 86 days suspended on the assault charge. He also was charged with underage possession of alcohol in August 2004 and pleaded guilty to that charge a month later.

The review of online court records also shows that Becker received a deferred judgment on a charge of drug paraphernalia in 2003. The court order signed on Sept. 3, 2003 also notes that “the defendant allowed to participate in football if acceptable to the school.”

Thomas has been the school’s coach for nearly three decades. He has nearly 300 career victories, and four of his former players have played in the NFL.

1 comment

  1. I watched the ESPN 360 episode on this great man….He without a doubt put everyone else before himself, about life and how to be, when it comes to a situation when you rally around each other, to see the positive things, and the value of life in general…..He on his own brought that small town back from ruins, from a devastating tornado. There should be more people that were like him, wanted no glory for himself…..enough said. Sad that this young man was miss guided, and chose to be hateful, instead of looking for help!

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