Ralph Thomas and Oma Crawford had been talking, even laughing, but also arguing about a woman, Friday night, before Crawford pulled a gun from his duffel bag and fired an estimated nine shots, killing Thomas, witnesses tell ABC7 News.
The owner of the D.C. Falcons tells ABC7 that Thomas, 36, who was shot and killed outside McKinley Tech High School, was the team's general manager.
He says that the suspect in the case, Crawford, 25, had tried out for the team but didn't make it.
Witnesses say Thomas and Crawford got into an altercation around 8:30 p.m.
"One thing led to another, the coach throwing the guy off him," a witness told ABC7 News.
"The guy ran to the bleachers to my right, grabbed a duffel bag," he said. "He pulled out a firearm, started shooting at the coach. (The coach) was running in circles, trying to get away from the guy, and the guy was constantly shooting at his back."
Thomas was killed in the gunfire while trying to elude the gunman and hiding behind cars.
One witness says he heard nine shots.
Thomas had received threatening emails and texts from Crawford in the last few days, his sister, Regina Thomas says.
A witness told ABC7 News he heard the two men arguing about a woman, just before the shots.
D.C. police have charged the Landover resident with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the shooting. A police report says that Thomas was shot in the head and body from a .38-caliber gun.
Police responded to the McKinley Tech campus, located at 151 T St. NE., to find Thomas suffering from gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The D.C. Falcons website says that they've held a training camp at McKinley Tech.
In their Temple Hills, Maryland home, the Thomas family is consumed with grief.
"What I can't understand is why?" Nettie Thomas, the victim's mother says. Ralph Thomas was a teacher, a mentor, and a coach, she says.
Thomas's family says Crawford's father, a high school coach, was acquainted with Thomas.
Thomas is survived by four children, two boys and two girls, aged 7-17.
Crawford, who has an arrest record that includes armed robbery, assault, and illegal gun charges, is now in custody facing a murder while armed charge.