Yes, it’s uncomfortably dour to go from one surreal, tragic murder (Steve McNair) to another, slightly older surreal, tragic murder (Ed Thomas). But here it is and here we are.
News from the Butler County Courthouse in Allison, Iowa, is even more uncomfortable, as the story that we kind of wished was wrapping itself up neatly will, instead, drag itself through the headlines a few more times. Mark Becker, the man accused of shooting Thomas to death in his high school’s makeshift weight room, has plead not guilty to first-degree murder, according to the WATERLOO-CEDAR FALLS COURIER.
Ironically, the most objectionable aspect of the plea isn’t the prospect of injustice, but the exact opposite.
It was almost about 13 months ago that a massive tornado struck the town of Parkersburg in northeast Iowa, flattening the small town. One of the first reconstruction projects was the football field, and for good reason; many towns find a common bond in their high school football team, but few programs are as prolific as Aplington-Parkersburg; the “Sacred Acre,” as the field is called, has been the home of several NFL veterans, all under the tutelage of longtime head coach and teacher Ed Thomas.
(Thomas, leading his team in prayer before their first playoff game after the tornado.)
So it’s with an unbelievable amount of shock that we learn today that Thomas was shot several times at the school’s weight room this morning, and he passed away shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital. No students were harmed, and the suspect is reportedly in custody, so this appeared to be a targeted attack.