At approximately 7:45 am, Mark Becker, a 24-year old former high school football player, walked into his teams' weight room and unloaded a barrage of bullets, point blank at his former coach, Ed Thomas, considered to be a icon, not only in Iowa but across the country, as one of the best high school coaches to ever take the field.
Thomas, a 37-year veteran who's spent the past 34-years as the head coach of Aplington-Parkersburg High School was pronounced dead at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo shortly being admitted.
Becker was arrested without incident following the shooting and is currently being held in Butler County Jail, charged with first-degree murder.
News of the tragedy spread quickly and one of the first to feel its effect was Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann, a graduate of Aplington-Parkersburgh in 1991.
"It's hard to begin to talk about what he's meant to me," Wiegmann told the Denver Post. "He's a second father. He taught me how to play football and a world more than that. He helped make me the man that I am."
In all, Thomas turned out four NFL Players including Wiegmann, Green Bay Tackle Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville Guard Brad Meester and Detroit Tackle Jared DeVries.
What doesn't make the headlines are the countless number of lives Thomas touched, who did not make it into the NFL; everyday people from all walks of life, who may not have played a single down for Thomas.
Thirteen months ago a devastating tornado ripped through Parkersburgh and it was Thomas who single-handedly led the rebirth and rebuilding of this close-knit community, despite having his own house leveled in the destruction.
In a statement issued by Rick Wulkow, Iowa High School Athletic Association executive, "He will be forever remembered not so much for his many wins on the field, but for the exemplary manner in which he coached kids and led the Aplington-Parkersburg community and school."
In a world desperate for leaders, heroes and icons, Ed Thomas ranked among the very best, on and off the field. Thoughts and prayers to the Thomas family and the multitude of those affected by this truly senseless tragedy.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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