Ed Thomas, one of Iowa's all-time great high school football coaches, was shot and killed this morning in his school's weight room, reportedly by a former player. Thirty students were watching; none was hurt. The gunman was taken into custody.

Thomas was the 2005 NFL High School Coach of the Year. Four of his former players at tiny Aplington-Parkersburg High School are now in the NFL: Green Bay's Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville's Brad Meester, Detroit's Jared DeVries and Denver's Casey Wiegmann.

KCCI-TV in Des Moines is reporting that authorities arrested Mark Becker, 24, of Parkersburg, a former player who was involved in a high-speed police chase on June 20.

The tributes to Thomas are rolling in, and so is the wild speculation about his shooter. According to 62andeven.com:

Sources tell 62andeven.com the older brother of a Aplington-Parkersburg senior football player is the gunman from this morning's fatal shooting of football coach Ed Thomas.

The assailant in his ‘ 30s' fired one shot, left and returned and unloaded four more shots.

Our sources say the brother was miffed that Thomas meted out unfair discipline to his brother and was way too tough on him and singled him out.

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In 2000, the Des Moines Register profiled Thomas' program, the heart of which was the school's weight room:

One of the places to watch and be watched is in the team's weight room. Wiegmann and Meester were among the many who pumped iron there last summer. DeVries worked out in Detroit, where his wife was attending school.

"That's what I mean about tradition," Thomas said. "Our eighth graders coming up through the program believe they're supposed to be in the weight room."

Star linebacker Alex Pollack was there. Quarterback Jay DeVries upheld his family's tradition in the absence of his big brother.

"It's just a reflection of how we do things up here," Jay said. "It's neat, lifting weights next to guys like Casey and Brad. Seeing those guys come back, seeing them in the weight room and around town and seeing them achieve is a pretty good thing for the younger kids to try to live up to."

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30 Students Witness Coach's Shooting [KCCI]
Remember Ed Thomas: Grooming players for the NFL [Des Moines Register]