LOS ANGELES — The little league team coached by Bill Klug gathered for a game at the baseball diamond in El Segundo, California on Wednesday.
Their beloved coach—whose 10-year-old son played for the team—didn’t make it.
A few hours earlier he had been shot dead by a coward.
He was only 39-years-old but his body was laid out at an L.A. coroner’s facility. Klug was shot in the University of California, Los Angeles engineering building where he worked by an unidentified attacker, believed to have been a current or former student, who turned the gun on himself before he could face justice.
At work, Bill was known as Professor William S. Klug, he was a former graduate student at UCLA with a Ph.D from Caltech. His work in the field of mechanical and biological engineering had given him intimate knowledge of the devastating affects of gunshot wounds.
He co-authored a paper on what a bullet does when it enters the skull. “The progressive opening of fracture surfaces is governed by a thermodynamically irreversible cohesive law,” he wrote. In other words—fragile human life is obliterated.
His latest project was reportedly attempting to create a computer-generated heart.
“You cannot ask for a nicer, gentler, sweeter and more supportive guy than William Klug,” fellow UCLA professor Alan Garfinkel told the Los Angeles Times.
On the Little League field at the heart of his beach community in El Segundo, former friends and fellow coaches paid tribute in the same way.
“He deserves to have something said about him,” Lance Giroux, a close friend, told The Daily Beast. “I don’t want the focus on that guy that ended it.”
He recalled what Klug had told the kids when they lost their last Little League game.
“It’s not the end of the world, guys. Let it go,” he told the crestfallen Padres team after last week’s loss.
“He always had a good way of putting things in perspective,” Giroux mused, fighting tears. “He always managed to let it go.”
One thing is certain: Klug was the calm, never the storm.
“He never raised his voice above speaking voice. That’s why I can’t fathom this,” Giroux said. “In a sea of youth sports crazy people he was the nicest and most calm guy that there was.
“If there was a guy that you would send in to talk down the idiot suicide guy—Bill would be the guy.”
Klug’s pride and joy was his family.
Loyal to the last to his young daughter and wife Mary, he was inseparable from his son, Timmy.
Both southpaws, they bonded in uncanny ways.
“They were tighter than your average father and son,” Giroux stressed. “It’s strange to say, but they were buddies. They hung out. They talked alike. They looked alike. Walked alike. Sounded alike.
“You just knew what Timmy’s going to be like when he’s 37 years old.”
And when Giroux received the call notifying him of the loss of his close pal, Klug’s son was first on his mind.
“My first thought was Timmy,” he said.
And now with his dad slain, Giroux is already gearing up to help Timmy.
“It’s going to take a village,” he said. “It’s pretty tight group. We’re going to have to pick it up for him.”
Already, a crowdfunding page for the family has been set up.
According to the page’s description: “The money will be used for supporting the family and college for his son and daughter.”
Hours after the shooting, the Klugs’ driveway was clogged with cars from visiting family—and friends who had brought food.
Giroux was still working out how he was going to break the news about their coach to the young ballplayers—one of whom is the same age and attends the same elementary school as Timmy Klug.
“My son’s heading over here, and I haven’t gotten myself together on what to say to him,” the 48-year-old father said through choked-up pauses. “I will have to break it to him some way.
“I probably have to talk to every kid on that field. And I need to figure that out right now.”
The story was already being told by news outlets across America. A throng of media camped around the corner of Penn Road along Stevenson Park, where the ballgame between the A’s and the Royals was under way.