The Hot Beat


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911 tapes released in Ed Thomas shooting

Dispatcher: “Butler County 911.”

Daryl Myers: “This is Daryl Myers. I work for the school. We, uh, had, a, I think a shooting right now in the bus barn down at the high school.”

Dispatcher: “Where at?”

Myers: “At Parkersburg.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, at the high school where?”

Myers: “Uh, in the bus barn.”

Dispatcher: “In the bus barn? Do you know who it was?”

Myers: “No I don’t, uh, kids just come running out and said somebody shot Ed Thomas.”

Dispatcher: “Ed Tho—! OK.”

Myers: “And they’re still in the building.”

Dispatcher: “They’re in the building?

Myers: “Yeah.”

Dispatcher: “All right. All right. We’ll get someone right there.”

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation on Friday released dramatic 911 tapes in which shocked but calm residents of Parkersburg report the fatal shooting of iconic high school football coach Ed Thomas. Mark Becker, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in Thomas’ death.

The tapes — three of five are intelligible — show concerns about a slow ambulance response and less-than-perfect communication between emergency responders.

The DCI withheld six 911 tapes, contending they contain information that’s part of the ongoing criminal investigation.

In one tape, Police Chief Chris Luhring told dispatchers he couldn’t reach an ambulance by radio.

“This is going to be a load and go. When they come in here and load that cot up, you’re out of here,” Police Chief Chris Luhring said.

The dispatcher told Luhring that a helicopter would be there in 15 minutes, and then the dispatchers spent a few seconds tracking down a cell phone number for someone in the ambulance.

In another call, Leah Vanderholt called 911 because several students had fled the weight room where Thomas was shot and were gathered at a house nearby.

“We can see the building right now, and all we see is a police blazer. We don’t see any ambulances, we don’t see anything,” Vanderholt told the dispatcher.

“The ambulance is on the way right now,” the dispatcher said. “They had a hard time getting a crew, but they are on the way. We also have paramedics that have been en route for about ten minutes.”

Vanderholt told the dispatcher the address of the home where she and the kids were waiting, and the dispatcher asked them not to leave until police arrived, and they had spoken with the officers.


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Details of Becker’s release from hospital remain clouded

The mental health coordinator who was supposedly told that the sheriff’s office should be notified when Mark Becker was released from a Waterloo hospital is Bob Lincoln.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office says it was not notified, and the hospital, Covenant Medical Center, says it was not asked to notify the sheriff’s office.

Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg Head Football Coach Ed Thomas to death the next morning, prompting questions about why the 24-year-old wasn’t given more oversight when he was let out of the hospital.

Lincoln does not work for the hospital. He’s an employee of Butler County Community Services and serves as central point coordinator for mental health services. He said Friday he could not comment, and wasn’t aware that the sheriff’s office and hospital have been issuing dueling statements on whether the sheriff should have been notified upon Becker’s release.

A judicial magistrate issued an emergency detention order for Becker on Sunday, asking that he be evaluated. Iowa law required that the hospital release Becker within 48 hours of the order, unless someone had filed an application with the clerk of court stating that Becker was “seriously mentally impaired.” That application would have required a doctor’s written statement to that effect, and supporting affidavits.

The hospital said it released Becker to a “third party” on Tuesdsay, but it’s not clear who that was. It’s also not clear whether he was evaluated after while in the hospital, and what that evaluation revealed.

Lincoln and the hospital are citing HIPAA, the medical privacy laws, as an obstacle to their speaking openly about the case.

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