By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(HOUSTON) — A Texas high school football coach was gunned down outside a youth football game over the weekend in a confrontation police say stemmed from a family dispute.
Derwyn Lauderdale, 29, a football coach and teacher at Travis High School in Richmond, a suburb of Houston, was shot to death on Saturday afternoon in a parking lot outside a youth football game in Rosenberg, Texas, police said.
Rosenberg police officials said the shooting erupted in front of a crowd of people gathered at the Seabourne Creek Sports Complex, including members of youth football teams preparing to play.
“What a sad set of circumstances that took place during this event. Children came to play a game they love, only to have it ruined by a career criminal committing an act of family violence,” Rosenberg police Chief Jonathan White said at a news conference. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy and we will pursue appropriate charges so justice may be served.”
The suspected gunman was identified as James Hamilton, 28, of Houston, according to police. It was not immediately clear how Hamilton and Lauderdale were related or what the family feud was about.
When Hamilton was taken into custody on suspicion of murder he was found to be in possession of a handgun that had been reported stolen to the Houston Police Department, according to officials.
Lauderdale, who was shot once in the stomach, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
“During the investigation, it was found James Hamilton and Derwyn Lauderdale had an on-going family-related dispute,” police said in a written statement.
Rosenberg police released a statement saying that Hamilton has an extensive criminal history that includes previous arrests for violation of a protective order, unlawful carrying of a weapon and terroristic threat causing fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
A woman who witnessed the shooting told ABC affiliate station KTRK-TV in Houston that she was sitting in her car with her grandson, who was preparing to play in a football game at the sports complex, when she saw a black Mercedes pull up next to Lauderdale’s car.
The witness, who did not want to be identified, said she saw Lauderdale get out of his vehicle with a child and start walking towards the Mercedes. She said the driver of the Mercedes shot Lauderdale once.
Officials said Hamilton was still at the scene when police officers arrived and arrested him.
Sarah Laberge, the principal of Travis High School, released a statement to students and staff confirming that Lauderdale was a first-year teacher at the school and an assistant coach on the varsity football team.
“Dear Tiger families, I am writing with a heavy heart, after learning about the tragic and sudden death of a Travis High School staff member,” Laberge wrote. “This news has shocked our THS community and has left us heartbroken for his family. While we do not have additional information to share at this time, I want to make you aware and ask you to join me in keeping his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”
Lauderdale had written a statement on the high school’s website saying he was looking forward to teaching physical education at the school and coaching the wide receivers on the varsity football team.
“I hope to inspire the youth exactly like Kobe Bryant did,” Lauderdale wrote, referring to the former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star who died in a helicopter crash in January.
Officials at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, also released a statement saying Lauderdale had attended the school and was a standout player on the Bearcats football team from 2010 to 2014. School officials said Lauderdale was a member of the football team’s coaching staff in 2018 and 2019.
“We are stunned by this news,” SBU’s director of athletics, Mike Pitts, said in a statement. “Derwyn had been a member of the Bearcat Family for nearly a decade and we will miss him. Our hearts, thoughts, and (especially) prayers go out to Derwyn’s family and to the coaches and players of SBU Football.”
Robert Clardy, the university’s head football coach, added, “Words can’t express the loss we’re feeling right now as a Bearcat Family. Derwyn leaves a legacy here that will never be forgotten by his former teammates and coaches. He was a great friend and mentor to all.”
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