Slain youth football coach remembered
The man shot in Elk Grove on Tuesday night died in front of his home with his children inside, according to Elk Grove police.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Leslie Stafford, 36.
“He’s a family man who had several children there with him,” said Elk Grove Police Department Officer Christopher Trim. “They have been put in the difficult situation of growing up without a father.”
A GoFundMe page for Stafford shows him surrounded by four young children in front of a row of Christmas stockings hung over a fireplace. A woman at the home Wednesday morning declined to comment.
“(Four) children just lost their father, coach, teacher, friend, hero, their support system,” the page says.
On Wednesday morning, Christmas lights remained outside the tan house where multiple neighbors said the shooting took place, near the intersection of Spring Flower Drive and Wild Teak Court.
Elk Grove police officers arrived at 9:55 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a call about a person in front of the Spring Flower Drive home, Trim said.
Stafford was found with a bullet wound to his head, and was later declared dead at the scene by medical personnel.
Trim said the Police Department has little information about any suspects in the case.
Detectives investigating the homicide were sorting through evidence, including video from security cameras in the neighborhood Wednesday, and are asking for the public’s help.
About 200 people, many of them coaches a members of the Shledon Jr. Huskies, a youth football and cheer organization, attended a vigil Wednesday evening a T.R. Smedberg Middle School. Stafford, known as “Coach Flex”, was the coaches coordinator for the program, and fellow coaches praised him as a man who inspired and encouraged players and coaches.
“His heart was so big,” said Pastor George Taylor, who coached with Stafford and whose son played on Stafford’s teams for several years. “They say some people wear their heart on their sleeve, well, he wore it on his face.”
The father of four children, ranging from elementary to high school age, Stafford had worked with the program for nearly a decade and was dedicated to creating a positive, family atmosphere for youth, said Gerald Harvey, vice president of the Sheldon Jr. Huskies.
Fellow coach Gary Johnson said Stafford often helped cover costs for for kids who might not otherwise have been able to participate in the program.
Stafford was described as the “lifeline” of the organization, and those who spoke during the vigil urged team members to honor his life by emulating his positive spirit.