LA medallist Laut shot dead

Hueneme High athletic director and Olympic medalist shot dead
By From staff reports
Originally published 08:34 a.m., August 28, 2009
Updated 11:08 a.m., August 28, 2009

Police confirmed this morning that former Olympic shot putter and Hueneme High School athletic director Dave Laut was shot to death at his Oxnard home late last night.

Oxnard police responding to a report of shots fired near midnight found Lout, 52, in the yard of his home in the 800 block of Raft Lane with multiple gunshot wounds, police said in a prepared statement. He died at the scene.

Police called the killing a homicide, but they offered no further details about the incident.

A section of Raft Lane around Laut’s home was cordoned off with police tape this morning.

Sources at Hueneme High School said the school was devastated. Neighbors on Raft Lane were shocked.

Neighbor Mike Riley, 38, said Laut had lived at the home for 18 years. “You couldn’t have asked for a better guy,” Riley said.

He said he learned of the killing when Oxnard police arrived at the home about 11:30 last night.

Laut, who was hired as the Hueneme athletic director a year ago, won a bronze medal in the shot put in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“People will be numb about this for a long time. He cared about other people. He cared about kids, which made him a good teacher and good coach. He was made to be a teacher, “ said Brian FitzGerald, Rio Mesa High athletic director.

“He was a very good, honest man,” said Tony Diaz, former Oxnard Union High School District athletic director. “He was someone who wanted to do a good job and the right things.”

Laut was a former NCAA champion and a gold medal winner at the 1979 Pan American Games. He also won a bronze medal in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Cup in 1981.

A Ventura County native, Laut attended Santa Clara High School and graduated from Moorpark College and UCLA.

He won two NCAA titles at UCLA and held the U.S. record at 72 feet, 3 inches in 1982 when he was ranked second in the world. He made his last Olympic run in 1988, finishing sixth at the U.S. Olympic Trials after overcoming surgeries on both knees in 1986.

Laut was a former coach at Ventura College and was inducted into the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. He played football and basketball under Lou Cvijanovich in the 1970s at Santa Clara High.

“He was one of the finest of the finest. He gave you 100 percent at all times,” Cvijanovich said. “He was an outstanding kid. Of all the great athletes that came out of the school, he is notably one of the best.”

Laut was Hueneme track coach for eight years before leaving for a physical education position for one year at Frontier High.

Nancy Gill, who lives in the neighborhood and also went to Santa Clara High School, said both Laut and his wife, Jane, were “very sweet and generous,” giving time to both Hueneme High and Santa Clara Elementary School, where their son, Michael, is a fifth-grader.

“He was one of Oxnard’s shining stars because he’d done so well,” Gill said. “He’d gone to the Olympics. He’d done such a good job of representing Oxnard.”

Cathy Kinney, the executive assistant for the city of Oxnard, went to school with Laut and said he stood out as an athlete even as a boy, playing football, basketball and baseball at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard.

“He really was into sports,” Kinney said. “I remember him as a very sweet boy.”

Oxnard police are asking anyone with information about the killing to call Detective Michael Young at 385-7606 or the Oxnard Violent Crimes Hotline at 805-982-7070.