Hundreds gather to remember slain football coach - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Hundreds gather to remember slain football coach

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24-year-old Mark Becker is charged with First Degree Murder 24-year-old Mark Becker is charged with First Degree Murder
Coach Ed Thomas was shot to death Wednesday morning Coach Ed Thomas was shot to death Wednesday morning

PARKERSBURG, Iowa (AP) -- Hundreds of mourners prayed and embraced at a stadium in rural Iowa to remember a longtime high school football coach who authorities say was gunned down by one of his former players.

Pastors told onlookers during a Wednesday night vigil to pray and seek God's guidance following Ed Thomas' death.

The 58-year-old coached for 34 years at Aplington-Parkersburg High School in the tiny Iowa community of Parkersbug and helped launch several NFL careers.

Former players, neighbors and residents from nearby towns held candles as they listened to Biblical passages in honor of the deeply religious husband and father. He died early Wednesday after being shot in a weight room adjacent to the school.

Police: Suspect in coach killing attacked house

PARKERSBURG, Iowa (AP) -- Police say a 24-year-old man charged with murdering a prominent Iowa high school football coach was supposed to have been taken to a hospital psychiatric ward after leading police on a car chase.

Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson says he was told Butler County Sheriff's deputies would take Mark Becker to the ward after taking a baseball bat to a Cedar Falls home and leading police on a chase Saturday night.

The Sheriff's Office declined to comment on whether deputies took Becker to the ward.

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

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.

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

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