UPDATED: Shooting suspect is former football player - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATED: Shooting suspect is former football player

Mark Becker Mark Becker

PARKERSBURG (KWWL) - Aplington-Parkersburg head football coach Ed Thomas has died after being shot.

Sources tell us that coach Thomas was in the school weight room when someone walked in and opened fire on him.

He was shot several times in the head and was taken to a local hospital. Family members say Coach Thomas passed away shortly after arriving at the hospital.

The school tells us that no students were injured in the shooting. About 20 students were in the weight room around 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday when a man walked in, first pointed a gun at a student, then took aim at Coach Thomas. Crisis counselors are at the elementary school meeting with students.

Police have charged Mark Becker, 24, with First Degree Murder. Becker is a former A-P student and football player.

Police say Becker left the scene and drove back to his parents' house, where the Butler County Sheriff took him into custody.

Becker was also involved in a police chase last weekend. Police say Becker broke into a man's house on Saturday evening. The suspect then led law enforcement on a high speed chase that ended in Butler County when he hit a deer.

Becker was taken in custody, and on Sunday morning, law enforcement decided Becker needed medical attention. He was taken to Covenant Hospital in Waterloo.

Becker was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the night at his parents' house in Parkersburg.

Law enforcement say they were never notified that Becker had been released.

Residents of Parkersburg say Thomas was much more than a football coach.

"Our town is pouring out here this morning, our town is distraught," A-P Superintendent Jon Thompson said.

Thompson says in a yearly speech to parents, Thomas would say that after playing football, he wanted his players to be better people and better citizens.

Thomas started working at A-P in 1975. Thomas has four former players currently active in the NFL.

A vigil is planned at the A-P football field, called the Sacred Acre, at 7 p.m. If it's raining, the event will move to the middle school in Aplington. There will be another vigil at the practice field at 9:30 p.m. with candles.

Wednesday night on Nightly News, NBC's Kevin Tibbles will report on the shooting of Coach Thomas. You can watch that at 5:30 on KWWL.

After receiving dozens of phone calls, e-mails and comments, we've started a forum to share favorite memories of Coach Thomas and thoughts for the community. Click here.

A student has also started a memorial group on Facebook.

We will continue to update this story as details become available.

Online News Director Nate Leding

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