Practice had just finished on a cool Florida night as Coach Dave Williams walked to his car with a group of seven-year-old youth football players.
After snacking on cookies and Gatorade 43-year-old Williams had bought for his 30-member team, they made their way off the field at Mills Pond Park, in Fort Lauderdale.
That’s when Williams noticed several men, at least one with a gun, walking toward them.
Fearing for the safety of his team, the 12-year veteran coaching volunteer told the children to run. Moments later, Williams was shot dead.
Williams was killed by an unidentified man at 8.44pm in the park’s parking lot while 600 adults and children partook in activities inside.
‘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 the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes youth football club, told the Sun-Sentinel.
‘It’s shocking. You think you hear fireworks, but you see people grabbing their kids and running.’
Gaines said when he finally got to Williams, the coach was face-down in the parking lot with multiple gunshot wounds.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue arrived at the scene to transport Williams to Broward Medical Center, but the coach died en route.
Police are investigating and don’t know if Williams knew the men or why he was targeted.
Martin Maultsby, president of the Florida Youth Football League, said he doesn’t know if any children witnessed Williams being killed, but he fears they saw the aftermath.
‘I’m pretty sure that there were some kids who were leaving the park, who maybe didn’t see the incident itself, but may have seen him injured after it was done.
‘This is not the place for this kind of violence. I’ve been in youth football for over 20 years, and this is the first one.
‘You may have disputes between the kids, maybe in the heat of the battle, but you don’t have anyone getting killed, or someone not waking up the next day,’ Maultsby told the Sun-Sentinel.
Gaines said he doesn’t think the slaying had anything to do with the youth football team. He called Williams a ‘giving guy’ and a dedicated coach.
‘The coaches give way more than they receive. 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,’ Gaines told the Sentinel.
All weekend games have been canceled for the Hurricanes and a memorial is being planned for Williams.