Clerical Snafu Let Accused Coach Killer Go Free

New details are beginning to emerge about Mark Becker, the accused shooter of beloved Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas, including his arrest the previous weekend. After using a baseball bat and his car to terrorize a random couple, he lead Butler County deputies on a car chase before being taken into custody and sent to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Mark Becker Ed Thomas

(Becker [L], accused of shooting & killing Coach Thomas [R])

But somehow Becker was released from the hospital and just left, which came as a surprise to Cedar Falls police, who had asked the Butler County deputies to notify them because they had planned to arrest him on two felony charges relating to the assault and chase. So instead of being behind bars or continuing to be under hospital care, Becker was able to roam the streets and carry out his plan to kill his former coach.

Hospital officials are passing the buck on the blame, saying that no law enforcement agencies asked them for notification of when Becker was going to be released. Although - and I’m not a doctor - I would think that if someone is dropped off at the hospital after going nuts and leading police on a chase, the hospital might want to give the cops a call and check before letting the guy back on the streets.

(Also, they might want to reevalutate their mental health screening methods, because clearly they failed big-time in this case.)

It’s not like the vandalism at the house over the weekend was minor. Becker apparently starting smashing in the windows of the home with a baseball bat, and then rammed the garage door with his car. The family who lived there were parents of a former football teammate of Becker, which raises questions about why he allegedly targeted certain people. And the chase that ensued after the incident reached speeds of more than 100 mph, and only ended when Becker hit a deer.

It probably isn’t shocking to learn that Becker has had a history of mental health and drug problems. In fact, his issues seem to trace back to high school, when he and another football player were arrested for possession of drug paraphenalia before their senior seasons. But Thomas decided to give them another chance, and let them back on the football team despite their crimes.