A 30-year-old Missouri youth football coach shot four times by a player’s parent at a practice this week said the gunman was angry because his son wasn’t getting more playing time, according to reports.
Shaquille Latimore said the parent first confronted him several weeks ago. A feud ensued, and it ended with the parent shooting Latimore several times Tuesday night in front of the team of 9- and 10-year-olds.
“I’m going to be OK,” Latimore said in an interview from his hospital bed on Thursday. “It’s more psychological than anything else.”
The suspected gunman, 43-year-old Daryl Clemmons, turned himself in and was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.
Latimore, a former football player at Vashon High School, volunteers as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator for a city recreational league team called the St. Louis BadBoyz. He coaches with his cousin.
At Tuesday’s practice, at Sherman Park in the 1500 block of North Kingshighway, Latimore said Clemmons had his back turned and kept reaching into a pocket of his sweatsuit before opening fire.
“I didn’t see his gun until it was already too late,” Latimore said. “I ran, and he shot me in the back. I fell, and he shot me a couple more times.”
Latimore said the gunman then stood over him, taunting him and pacing back and forth.
“After he shot me,” Latimore recalled, “he was like … ‘I told you I was going to pop your (expletive).’”
Latimore said some of the other adults “shielded” him, and Clemmons ran off.
Latimore said Clemmons coached the team a few years ago before Latimore joined as a coach.
“After every game, he would try to critique me,” Latimore said.
Latimore said most parents treat the coaches well, but some, like Clemmons, can ruin kids’ sports.
“Some parents try to live through their kids,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the Latimore family
Latimore came to Tuesday’s practice armed with his own gun — it’s an unsafe neighborhood, he said, and he likes to have it for self-defense. But he handed his gun off to another adult before practice began.
“I gave my gun to someone else to hold. I didn’t want (Clemmons) to feel threatened,” Latimore said. Otherwise: “I would’ve defended myself.”
Latimore’s mother, SeMiko Latimore, said she was familiar with Clemmons from his antics at previous practices.
“He was a little ‘extra,’” she said. “You always knew he was there.”
Of the shooting, she said, “It’s senseless. We’re supposed to be bringing these kids off the streets and teaching them what to do, what not to do. We’ve got all these kids traumatized because their coach was shot in front of them. He could have easily hit one of those children.”
SeMiko Latimore said her son didn’t play favorites.
“Shaquille is one of those fair coaches, so he tries to rotate all of the kids in,” she said. “The parent was a little unhappy … and wanted his kid to do more than someone else and was upset the way things were being done.”
Latimore is married and the father of two daughters and three sons. His kids sometimes come to practices with him, but they weren’t there this week.
He works in a factory, and a longtime friend said he also works as a security guard at clubs and community events.
In a photo Latimore’s mother posted on Facebook, he is shown flashing a thumbs up from his hospital bed. He was shot in the leg, arm, back and abdomen; bullets injured some of his internal organs. His family and friends are trying to raise money for his medical bills.
“He’s thankful to be alive,” his mother said. “He’s a little teary-eyed of course, but he is in good spirits.”
He was slated to take a first walk in the hospital on Thursday, she said. He helped investigators from his hospital room by identifying the gunman from a photo lineup, Latimore’s mother said.
Latimore coaches for the same youth league he once played for.
“It’s his life. He lives, eats, sleeps football,” his mother said.
He played championship flag football in an adult league and was sidelined a few years ago after injuring his hip in a vehicle crash.
James Ward, a longtime friend of Latimore, said Latimore excels in football and played defensive lineman and tight end at Vashon High School. He began coaching kids a few years ago.
Ward and Latimore post weekly videos breaking down the week’s recreational flag football games or youth sports. Ward said Latimore is focused on letting all of his players in the game.
“That’s his No. 1 thing: He tries to get everyone playing time,” Ward said. “That’s all he talks about.”
Clemmons lives in the 2100 block of Kingsland Avenue in Pagedale. He did not have an attorney listed in court files, and he was held without bond Thursday.
The youth St. Louis BadBoyz team is part of the AYF league, which is for players ranging in age from 5 to 13. Players can get national exposure, Latimore said, and the best teams across the country travel to Florida for a championship game.