By: Matt Fitzgerald for BleacherReport.com
JOPLIN, MO. — Derek Moore, a Missouri Southern State University assistant football coach, passed away on Saturday in Joplin, Mo., succumbing to injuries sustained in a Friday evening shooting outside a local movie theater.
The school’s athletics department reported the tragic news.
According to the athletics department’s official release, the 37-year-old coached the team’s offensive line. It was his first year at MSSU following three seasons as an assistant coach at Western Illinois University. He had accumulated 14 previous seasons of collegiate coaching experience.
Staff reports from the Joplin Globe indicate that the shooting occurred at 9:50 p.m. CST on Friday in the parking lot of the Northstar 14 Theatres. A 39-year-old suspect, Jeffery L. Bruner, was taken into police custody and remains in the Joplin City Jail.
Missouri Southern State interim president Alan Marble provided his perspective, per the release:
We are stunned and deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and our prayers are with Derek’s family. We are ensuring that our employees and students have the emotional support they need during this difficult time.
Lions head coach Daryl Daye elaborated on the positive impact Moore had on and off the field in his time at the university:
Derek was new to Missouri Southern but he was embraced by our campus and community. He was a very likeable person who always had a smile on his face and made friends easily with our staff and players. This is an unspeakable loss for the MSSU athletics family.
Athletics director Jared Bruggeman also expressed his grief, while noting, as Marble did, that a priority would be placed on caring for those dealing with the repercussions of this tragedy:
The Missouri Southern athletics community is deeply saddened by the events that have occurred. In times like this, our priority is to make sure we are there for our student-athletes, coaches and support staff in whatever way necessary.
Due to this tragedy, homecoming plans are canceled and the Lions’ impending home game against Lindenwood is postponed. No other adjustments have been made to the schedule at this time.
Grief counselors are available to university students and employees during this difficult time. A candlelight vigil is being planned in Moore’s honor for Monday on the school’s campus.
Moore is survived by a seven-year-old son.
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