South Florida youth football coach gunned down in front of players, parents

A South Florida youth football coach was shot dead in front of his players, parents and fellow coaches in one of the most horrifying incidents in youth sports memory.

As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, NBC Miami and other sources, volunteer Fort Lauderdale youth football coach Dave Williams was shot just before 9 p.m. Thursday, shortly after he brought post-practice snacks for his 7-and-younger players. Williams, a 43-year-old graduate of Florida State who owned a nearby car wash, was a respect coach in the Florida Youth Football League who was affectionately known as Coach Disco Dave.

“It’s shocking,” Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes coach Jamaal Gaines told the Sun-Sentinel. “You think you hear fireworks, but you see people grabbing their kids and running.”

The incident occurred at Mills Pond Park, where hundreds of adults were on the scene as various youth football teams practiced and competed in games. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Williams had just arrived at the scene, delivering Gatorade and cookies before he saw a group of adults approaching and told his players to scatter.

Those instructions were the last thing anyone heard Williams say, with the coach shot multiple times before his assaulters ran off immediately after the gunshots were fired. Williams was transported to Broward Health Medical Center via Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, but reportedly died en route to the hospital from the wounds he suffered in the incident.

“The coaches give way more than they receive,” Gaines told the Sun-Sentinel. “I know he loved what he was doing. … It’s a sad day. I feel so bad that it happened around what we were trying to do for the children in our city. We have people volunteering their time to keep kids safe, and others with mysterious ideas. It’s unbelievable.”