Former Player Charged with Killing Iowa Coach

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PARKERSBURG, Iowa - A 24-year-old former high school football player walked into the school's weight room Wednesday morning and fatally shot his former coach, before sheriff's deputies arrested him at a nearby home a short time later, authorities said.

Mark Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg High School football coach Ed Thomas several times with a handgun after walking into the room at about 8 a.m., authorities said. Thomas was rushed to nearby Waterloo hospital, where he died.

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.

Becker is charged with first-degree murder and was being held in Butler County jail.

Winker said Becker was arrested without incident at a home in rural Parkersburg shortly after authorities received a 911 call about the shooting.

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.

Winker said Becker used a handgun in the shooting. He did not elaborate.

He said investigators plan on interviewing students who were in the weight room and to look into Becker's past.

"Mr. Becker's entire past is being looked at," Winker said.

The school is in Parkersburg, about 80 miles northeast of Des Moines.

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.
     
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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