Former coach confirms suspect in Texas shooting played on Yavapai …
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Former coach confirms suspect in Texas shooting played on Yavapai College basketball team

Elton Simpson goes for a basket during a game for the Yavapai College Roughriders, during the 2002-03 season.

Photo by Les Stukenberg .

Elton Simpson goes for a basket during a game for the Yavapai College Roughriders, during the 2002-03 season.

Steve Stockmar/Daily Courier

Originally Published: May 5, 2015 6:02 a.m.

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Photo by Les Stukenberg

Elton Simpson, as a student at Yavapai College (2002-03).

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Photo by Les Stukenberg

Elton Simpson

One of the suspects in Sunday’s failed attack on a Texas community center that was hosting an event displaying cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad is believed to have a connection to Prescott’s sports community going back more than a dozen years ago.

Elton Simpson, identified by the FBI as one of the suspects from Sunday’s shootout in Garland, Texas, played on the Yavapai College men’s basketball team in Prescott during the 2002-03 winter season, that team’s former assistant coach, Jeff Renegar, confirmed Monday, May 4.

Simpson, 30, and Sunday’s other suspect were killed by a police officer.

Yavapai College on Monday did not confirm that the Garland shooting suspect was its former student athlete. They were able to confirm, however, that someone of that same name attended the school.

Back in the fall of 2002, Simpson, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound freshman guard out of Phoenix, was a walk-on who joined the Roughriders in arguably the greatest season in the program’s history. Under first-year coach Brooks Thompson, who is the current head men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the Roughriders finished with a 28-7 record, an Arizona conference championship, a trip to the national tournament, and a final national ranking of No. 11.

That season Simpson appeared in 34 games as a role player with the Roughriders and averaged 3.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He played mostly late in games in a back-up role to McDonald’s High School All-American guard Keion Kindred.

As a player with limited impact in his one season at Yavapai, Simpson’s most notable moment probably came in the Region 1 Championship game in March 2003 in Prescott. Simpson inbounded the ball and delivered the assist on Eric Howard’s miracle buzzer-beating shot that lifted the Roughriders to an 80-79 win over Pima to clinch the region title and earn a trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, later that month.

Renegar is still with Thompson, and is in his seventh season as an assistant coach at UTSA. Renegar said in a Monday telephone interview that when he first saw the Garland shooting news story, he recognized the suspect’s name and age as his former Roughrider player. When he saw Simpson’s photo as a suspect, he knew for certain it was his former player.

Renegar remembered Simpson as being a bit of a “loner” during his brief time on the Prescott campus, and even recalled seeing him eat meals by himself.

“I don’t know if he hung out with his teammates a lot. I think he spent most of his time by himself. He wasn’t as social as the other guys,” said Renegar, who added, “I would never have thought that he would be part of anything like this.”

After Simpson’s one season playing in Prescott, Renegar says he saw the player just one other time. About a year or two later (Renegar believes it was around 2005), he saw Simpson at a recruiting event.

“He was just there sitting in the stands. I talked to him for a couple minutes,” Renegar said. “That was the last time (I had contact with him).”

The FBI in Phoenix has been going through vehicles and the apartment connected to the two dead suspects.

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Gunman’s family and friends react; Elton Simpson involved in FBI terror investigation

By:
Nicole Garcia

Posted: May 04 2015 09:07PM MST

Video Posted: Jul 27 2015 03:17AM MST

Updated: May 04 2015 09:17PM MST

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FOX 10 has learned more about Elton Simpson, who has been on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s radar since 2006, and was connected with a federal terror investigation.

Simpson’s family and those who knew him as a young basketball player are speaking out.

Family members and old friends of Elton Simpson are all expressing how stunned and saddened they are, by the act of violence Simpson is accused of carrying out.

All of them said they saw no indication that Simpson had become, or would become a religious extremist.

Federal Court records from just five years ago paint him as a potential terrorist who talked about carrying out an attack.

The Prescott Daily Courier is reporting that Simpson played on Yavapai College’s Basketball team in 2003. A former teammate recalls the Simpson he knew when they were teens.

“He was a good kid, he was a great person in my eyes, Elton wouldn’t harm a fly, but that was so many years ago. We’re so far removed, we’re in our 30’s now, and I understand life changes for a lot of people,” said Keion Kindred.

But he says, no one imagined Simpson’s future would lead him to open fire at an anti-Islam event.

“Just completely in shock wondering where did he go wrong, where did this come from,” said Kindred.

The FBI paints a different picture of Simpson. According to documents, he was the subject of a terror investigation that began in 2006. An informant recorded hundreds of hours of conversations with Simpson in which he talked about violent Jihad’s. In one recording he said, “It’s time to go to Somalia brother, it’s time. I’m tellin you man, we gonna make it to the battlefield, it’s time to roll.”

“I always thought of him as very harmless,” said Kristina Sutton, Simpson’s former attorney.

Kristina Sutton was his attorney in the federal case. She says he was a devout Muslim, but the terrorist charges were exaggerated.

“He was very devout, he would often leave meetings to go pray, he wouldn’t shake my hand as part of his faith. He actively tried to convert me and my staff to Islam,” she said.

Ultimately a judge did not find enough evidence to charge Simpson with terrorism. 

His family members declined to comment to FOX 10 at their Glendale home. “They’ll be no statements made today,” said a family member.

They did release a statement: “We are sure many people in this country are curious to know if we had any idea of Elton’s plans. To that we say, without question, we did not.” The statement went on to say they do not condone violence, and they send prayers to the security guard that was hurt in the shooting.

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Former coach confirms suspect in Texas shooting played on Yavapai College basketball team

Elton Simpson goes for a basket during a game for the Yavapai College Roughriders, during the 2002-03 season.

Photo by Les Stukenberg .

Elton Simpson goes for a basket during a game for the Yavapai College Roughriders, during the 2002-03 season.

Steve Stockmar/Daily Courier

Originally Published: May 5, 2015 6:02 a.m.

  • Share
  • Tweet

photo

Photo by Les Stukenberg

Elton Simpson, as a student at Yavapai College (2002-03).

photo

Photo by Les Stukenberg

Elton Simpson

One of the suspects in Sunday’s failed attack on a Texas community center that was hosting an event displaying cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad is believed to have a connection to Prescott’s sports community going back more than a dozen years ago.

Elton Simpson, identified by the FBI as one of the suspects from Sunday’s shootout in Garland, Texas, played on the Yavapai College men’s basketball team in Prescott during the 2002-03 winter season, that team’s former assistant coach, Jeff Renegar, confirmed Monday, May 4.

Simpson, 30, and Sunday’s other suspect were killed by a police officer.

Yavapai College on Monday did not confirm that the Garland shooting suspect was its former student athlete. They were able to confirm, however, that someone of that same name attended the school.

Back in the fall of 2002, Simpson, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound freshman guard out of Phoenix, was a walk-on who joined the Roughriders in arguably the greatest season in the program’s history. Under first-year coach Brooks Thompson, who is the current head men’s basketball coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the Roughriders finished with a 28-7 record, an Arizona conference championship, a trip to the national tournament, and a final national ranking of No. 11.

That season Simpson appeared in 34 games as a role player with the Roughriders and averaged 3.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He played mostly late in games in a back-up role to McDonald’s High School All-American guard Keion Kindred.

As a player with limited impact in his one season at Yavapai, Simpson’s most notable moment probably came in the Region 1 Championship game in March 2003 in Prescott. Simpson inbounded the ball and delivered the assist on Eric Howard’s miracle buzzer-beating shot that lifted the Roughriders to an 80-79 win over Pima to clinch the region title and earn a trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, later that month.

Renegar is still with Thompson, and is in his seventh season as an assistant coach at UTSA. Renegar said in a Monday telephone interview that when he first saw the Garland shooting news story, he recognized the suspect’s name and age as his former Roughrider player. When he saw Simpson’s photo as a suspect, he knew for certain it was his former player.

Renegar remembered Simpson as being a bit of a “loner” during his brief time on the Prescott campus, and even recalled seeing him eat meals by himself.

“I don’t know if he hung out with his teammates a lot. I think he spent most of his time by himself. He wasn’t as social as the other guys,” said Renegar, who added, “I would never have thought that he would be part of anything like this.”

After Simpson’s one season playing in Prescott, Renegar says he saw the player just one other time. About a year or two later (Renegar believes it was around 2005), he saw Simpson at a recruiting event.

“He was just there sitting in the stands. I talked to him for a couple minutes,” Renegar said. “That was the last time (I had contact with him).”

The FBI in Phoenix has been going through vehicles and the apartment connected to the two dead suspects.

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MOST READ



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  • No injuries reported after possible explosion on Lakeshore Drive in Prescott Valley
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  • Fatal motorcycle accident on Highway 69
  • Identity released of man killed in motorcycle accident Friday
  • Explosion reported on Lakeshore Drive in Prescott Valley

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