PRICE Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Christopher Craig brought glory to his former college but then it all began to crumble.
Craig was arrested Monday after authorities said he was found outside an Eagle Mountain elementary school allegedly with explosive.
But miles away in Carbon County those who knew Craig were aware he was mentally ill.
“When I saw him wear that Muslim garb (on the news) I said to myself ‘here we go again,'” said Dave Paur, the athletic director at Utah State University Eastern.
Craig coached at the Price junior college when it was known as the College of Eastern University. And it was Paur who recommended Craig to become their coach in 2007.
At 25 year old, Craig was the youngest college coach in the nation.
“He was super intense,” said Paur. “When he walked on floor he and (assistant coach Brad) Barton, it was pure business.”
But that intense style paid off. Paur said Coach Craig turned the basketball program at CEU, as it was known then, around.
“He led us to third in the nation,” said Paur. “I won’t go into details. We should have won it that year.
The banner from that 2009-10 national tournament still hangs in the College’s basketball gymnasium.
After that season, Paur said Craig left to coach the University of Northern Colorado.
But Paur said that’s when Craig’s life began unraveling.
He said his best friend and assistant coach Brad Barton suddenly and then Craig was assaulted by a player while coaching in Texas.
“After that it was different,” he said. “It wasn’t the same.”
Paur said there were arrests in Arizona and Colorado where he ended up in the state hospital.
After that, Paur met Craig again and learned he had turned to religion.
“He tried to explain why he is Michael the Archangel and he was starting his own church,” Paur said.
And one time he asked Craig why he dressed as a Muslim..
“His comment to me was ‘people are afraid of Muslims,'” he said. “(Craig told him) When I dress like this, they leave me alone.”
In fact, Craig was arrested in Price two years ago, wearing the same Muslim clothing as he was wearing in Eagle Mountain, outside a Price elementary school.
Carbon school officials said his daughter was attending the school.
“Apparently he knew where his daughter was in the classroom (and) drove up and got out of his car,” said Superintendent Steve Carlsen. “Interestingly enough when I saw the news yesterday, he had on a light green robe and a white turban. (It) was the same one.”
Carlsen said Craig spoke to a police officer moments before going onto the school property. He said Craig asked the officer what would happen if he drove onto the property. Carlsen said the officer told him he’d be arrested. And he said Craig drove right onto the school grounds and parked outside his daughter’s classroom. But Craig had no weapons on him. Craig eventually spent 40 days in jail but also spent time in Utah’s mental hospital, according to court records.
Paur said he spoke with Craig about two months ago and learned he was out of work and living with his wife and children in Eagle Mountain. He was saddened to see Craig in the news once more.
“He was like a son to me,” Paur said. “That’s not the person I knew. He is mentally ill.”
And he also noticed reports that Craig may have had explosives with him while parked in front of the doors of the elementary school. That, he said is concerning.
“It appears to progressively be getting worse,” he said. “It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse.”