Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark Becker

Chaos in the weight room

In the wake of the tornado, the A-P weight room had been temporarily moved to the "bus barn" — a steel shell of a building where the buses were usually stored. For the time being, a concrete floor was put down and the weight equipment was moved in.

Coach Thomas spots one of his players.
Coach Thomas spots one of his players.

There were two weight lifting shifts that morning — the older football players were in from 6 — 7 a.m. (including Scott Becker, who had already left the weight room for his job at a lumberyard by the time Mark arrived). The second shift consisted mainly of younger players and others, like the girls' volleyball team. Coach Thomas was circulating, offering praise and advice to the 22 students working out at the time.

Mark Becker pulled up around 7:45 a.m. He parked his car and then walked to the door to check if Coach Thomas was there. When Becker saw that he was, he went back to the car, pocketed the gun and walked in toward the coach.

Fifteen-year-old Brandon Simkins was standing next to Coach Thomas, excited that he had just earned a coveted "Falcon Power" t-shirt after benching 250 lbs. That excitement turned to terror as he saw Mark Becker draw his gun. "I thought I was dead," Simkins would later tell the jury.


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