Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
MAGNA — A felony criminal charge was filed Wednesday against a man who police say threatened to shoot a coach and his players during a youth football practice.
Joshua Scott Howard, 38, who is believed to be homeless, is charged in 3rd District Court with making a threat of terrorism, a second-degree felony.
On Tuesday, the Cyprus youth football team was practicing at Magna Copper Park, 8975 W. 2600 South, when a woman came over to one of the coaches asking for help.
"I looked at her, she was crying, shaking. A guy was in her face so I yelled at him, 'Get away from her. Leave the park,'" said the coach, who only wanted to be identified as Russ.
Howard had been arguing with the woman near the playground area of the park and "appeared to have been trying to prevent (her) from leaving," according to charging documents. While the argument was happening, 18 children were having a football practice nearby in addition to coaches and parents. Howard and the woman do not have any ties to the football team.
Russ said the woman was clearly shaken. After telling Howard to leave the woman alone, Howard appeared as though he was about to leave the area. But instead, he came back and allegedly yelled at the coach. Russ said that prompted him to call over three other coaches to back him up.
"My one coach is telling him, 'Hey, just leave the park. We don't need this here. We don't need it in front of the kids.' I'm telling him to leave," Russ said.
That's when Howard allegedly threatened to go get a gun.
"Howard said to go ahead and call the cops, but that he was going to go and get a gun, come back and shoot all the kids," the charging documents say.
The coach said he then called police and other adults nearby started rounding up the players.
"I told the coaches, 'Go get the kids. Get the parents. Get them out of here,'" said Dawn Quibell.
The coach said with "everything going on in the world today," he took the threat seriously and asked 911 dispatchers to do the same.
"I really hope you've got people hauling butt to get down here," he told emergency dispatchers.
Russ said the woman told him that Howard is homeless and sleeps in the park, but that he has access to guns through his network of acquaintances. Police located Howard nearby and arrested him. No one was injured in the incident.
Russ said he's glad he took the initiative to stop and help the woman.
"I'm glad I stepped in. I'm glad I happened to be there at that particular time to intervene. I'm glad Unified Police Department responded as quick as they could," he said.