Football Coach Shot in High School Weight Room

A prominent central Iowa high school football coach died after being shot multiple times in the school's weight room Wednesday by a former player, police said.

Mark Becker, 24, was arrested at a house shortly after he allegedly shot Aplington-Parkersburg High School football coach Ed Thomas, police said. He was charged with first-degree murder.

Thomas was shot multiple time at point-blank range shortly before 8 a.m. local time and died after at Covenant Medical in Waterloo.

Late Wednesday afternoon, authorities say Becker was supposed to be taken to a hospital psychatric ward on Saturday evening after taking a baseball bat to a local home and leading police on a car chase. Police say he was released but the Butler County Sheriff Department was not notified.

Several students were in the room at the time of the shooting, but none were injured, said Kevin Winker, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. School was not in session Wednesday.

"The people that were present were not threatened in any way," Winker said.

Winker said Becker played football while at the school.

He said he couldn't discuss what Becker's motive for the slaying might have been, or what Becker might have been up to in the days leading up to the shooting.

"Motive is one of those things we're looking into," Winker said.

Thomas compiled a career record of 292-84 in 37 seasons as a head coach, 34 of them at Aplington-Parkersburg, and was one of the most well-known high school football coaches in Iowa.

He was honored as the NFL High School Coach of the Year in 2005, and four of his former players are in the NFL: Green Bay's Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville's Brad Meester, Detroit's Jared DeVries and Denver's Casey Wiegmann.

Jon Thompson, the school district's superintendent, said Thomas will be remembered as a mentor and role model to the whole community.

"I had two sons that played for him. He would sit in front of us at a parent meeting and tell us he was going to coach our children, but it wasn't about wins and losses, it was about making them better young men, better husbands in the future," Thompson said. "His legacy is not going to be football. It's going to be as a role model, husband, grandparent and just an outstanding man."

DeVries, a defensive end with the Lions, walked off the practice field in Allen Park, Mich. toward the end of its morning practice, apparently shaken.

Team officials said DeVries was not immediately available for comment.

When a tornado hit Parkersburg last summer, Thomas helped rebuild the football field just in time for the start of the 2008 season, the Des Moines Register reported. The field is named after him.

Thomas' own house was also destroyed in the tornado.

Butler County spokeswoman Holly Fokkena says about 50 students were in the school when the shooting occurred.'s Michelle Maskaly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to read more on this story from the Des Moines Register.

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