David Williams had just finished coaching his young players during football practice at Fort Lauderdale’s Mills Pond Park on Thursday night and was walking them off the field when he spotted a group of men and told the kids to scatter.
Seconds later, the coach of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes Youth Football League team was shot multiple times and the group of men took off running.
“I just heard the shots, ran in that direction and found one of my coaches on the ground fighting for his life,” Jamaal Gaines, president of Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes of Florida Youth Football League told the Sun Sentinel.
Fort Lauderdale police said the shooting happened in the parking lot just off the field at about 8:45 p.m. The park is located at 2201 NW Ninth Ave.
By Friday evening, police still hadn’t found the shooters or explained a motive.
“This is an active investigation and the circumstances surrounding this incident are still being determined,” Fort Lauderdale Detective Kevin Dupree said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Williams, 43, was the coach of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes — one of 14 teams in the league with kids between the ages of 4 and 14. WPLG Channel 10, which first reported that Williams told the kids to run, also said that he’d coached in the league for 12 years and that the kids he was with Thursday night were 7 years old.
The park was filled with hundreds of kids and parents, but no one else was injured.
“He was approached by several subjects,” Dupree said. “They took off on foot.”
Williams was taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Williams had just bought cookies and Gatorade for about 30 kids before he was gunned down. Gaines told the paper that Williams also owned a car wash on Sunrise Boulevard.
“I don’t know why he was targeted,” Gaines told the paper. He also said police patrol games, but not practices.
“We’re doing a great job for the community. I pray this doesn’t impact the program,” he said.
The League canceled the Hurricanes’ three games against the Miami Gardens Chiefs that were scheduled to be played Friday and Saturday, a detail first reported by the Sun Sentinel.
Anyone with information is urged to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.