Rower with Olympic hopes killed in domestic dispute

December 24, 2012
photo - William Schnittman, shown in this photo from Facebook, was a star rower.  Photo by
William Schnittman, shown in this photo from Facebook, was a star rower. Photo by  

William Schnittman, who dreamed of competing as an Olympic rower and sowed similar dreams in children, sought a victim’s protective order early this month against Darrell Kurt Wilson.

The request for an order to keep Wilson away from him was denied by a judge Dec. 4.

On Friday, Wilson shot and killed Schnittman, sexually assaulted a woman, abducted her and let her go, and then led police on a chase before killing himself.

The 32-year-old woman Wilson took hostage was described by police as having been in a relationship with Schnittman.

Oklahoma’s rowing community was in mourning this weekend after word spread that Schnittman, 25, who coached young rowers and competed at a top level in the sport, had died a violent death.

Jim Andersen, head coach of the Chesapeake Junior Crew, worked with Schnittman when he hired him as a boatman and later when Schnittman started teaching boys on the junior crew last spring.

“He had a passion for our sport; he brought that out in kids,” Andersen said.

“I’ve been getting calls from some of the kids he coached and they’re absolutely beside themselves.”

Schnittman was a star rower from the University of Michigan and had moved to Oklahoma to train only a few years ago, said those who worked with him.

Andersen described Schnittman as a wonderful man who loved working with children and had a goofy sense of humor. He said he last saw him about a week ago at a holiday brunch with fellow rowers and coaches.

“He was so content. ... I went, ‘Wow, he’s doing well.’ He was moving his way up,” Andersen said.

USRowing, the national governing body for the sport in the United States, released a statement on its website Saturday.

“It’s very difficult to adequately express our shock and sadness over the death of one of our own athletes,” USRowing CEO Glenn Merry said.

“This young man had a life ahead of him and Olympic dreams in his future. Our community lost a unique teammate. He was well-liked, and he will be missed.”

Schnittman had been training at the OKC National High Performance Center in the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River.

Calls to Schnittman’s family were not immediately returned.

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