On the scene in Parkersburg

Ed Thomas was the symbol for hope last year after a tornado ravaged half of Parkersburg and killed six people.

The former Aplington-Parkersburg football coach was gunned down today allegedly by former player Mark Becker in front of his players and other student athletes. He was 58.

People are shocked around town. I broke the news to an elderly couple who were driving around town. The man wept within seconds.

Thomas represented the hard-nosed, mentally tough approach that dignify rural Iowans. He was a man’s man, a leader and more than a coach to these people.

Hundreds of people have set flowers near the football field that bears his name. A press conference with Thomas’ family is set for 4 p.m. I will update following this emotional scene.

If any community can overcome this, it’s Parkersburg. But the real question is, why should anyone have to overcome something like?

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