June 24 starts normally, but goes awry
Mark Becker woke his father up at 4:30 am to have coffee together. Dave Becker worked as Butler County Equipment Superintendent of Secondary Roads (the department that maintained county roads) and kept early hours so it wasn't unusual for him to be up at that time. Joan, a software instructor at Tyler Technologies, got up soon after and joined them. Breakfast passed without incident and Mark seemed happier than he had in a while. Both Joan and Dave left for work. Mark's younger brother, Scott, preparing for his senior year as an offensive lineman on the A-P football team, was already at the high school for summer weight-lifting. Dave had planned to return shortly, right after he gave his employees their orders for the day, and had made a point of taking the keys to the Becker family's extra car, a blue Chevy Lumina, so Mark could not drive off.
No one can tell for certain when or why Mark Becker decided he had to confront his former coach. Ed Thomas had been the focus of previous violent hallucinations in which Becker believed Thomas was sexually assaulting him. He had even defaced a poster of Ed Thomas and the four A-P grads now playing in the NFL that hung in the Becker home. Whatever the motive (or lack thereof), Becker began taking steps toward the goal as soon as his parents left the house. Becker broke into his father's gun closet with a pair of antlers he found the basement.
Becker loaded a .22 revolver and shot a few practice rounds in the front and backyard of the Becker home. He fired a test shot at a birdhouse and missed. Becker later told police this led him to conclude he would have to shoot Thomas at close range.
Dressed in grey-blue coveralls with a freshly-reloaded gun, Becker found a spare set of keys to the Chevy Lumina and drove off to find Ed Thomas.