Kansas City Chiefs player accused in murder-suicide
By The Associated Press
Police are investigating two deadly shootings Saturday morning that they said are related.The shootings involve a Chiefs player and his girlfriend.
Photo courtesy: KCTV5.com
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher
fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium
and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager.
Authorities did not release
a possible motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that
Belcher and his girlfriend had been arguing recently. The two of them
have an infant child.
Belcher thanked general
manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself in
the parking lot of the team's practice facility, police spokesman Darin
Snapp said. Police had locked it down by mid-morning and reporters were
confined to the street just outside the gates.
The Chiefs were scheduled
to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The
Panthers were advised by the league to travel to Kansas City as planned,
though no official announcement on the game itself had been made.
Belcher was a 25-year-old
native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, who played college ball at
Maine. He signed with the Chiefs an undrafted free agent, made the team
and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup.
He'd played in all 11 games this season.
"The entire Chiefs family
is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are
heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends
affected by this unthinkable tragedy," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said
in a statement.
"We sincerely appreciate
the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in
the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for
the loved ones of those impacted," Hunt said. "We will continue to fully
cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate
counseling resources are available to all members of the organization."
receiving a call Saturday morning from a woman who said her daughter had
been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles away from the
Arrowhead complex. The call actually came from Belcher's mother, who
referred to the victim as her daughter, leading to some initial
confusion, police said.
Police then received a phone call from the Chiefs' training facility.
"The description matched
the suspect description from that other address. We kind of knew what we
were dealing with," Snapp said. The player was "holding a gun to his
head" as he stood in front of the front doors of the practice facility.
"And there were Pioli and
Crennel and another coach or employee was standing outside and appeared
to be talking to him. It appeared they were talking to the suspect,"
Snapp said. "The suspect began to walk in the opposite direction of the
coaches and the officers and that's when they heard the gunshot. It
appears he took his own life."
The coaches told police they never felt in any danger, Snapp said.
"They said the player was
actually thanking them for everything they'd done for him," he said.
"They were just talking to him and he was thanking them and everything.
That's when he walked away and shot himself."
Snapp described the
girlfriend as in her early 20s and that she and the player had a child
together. He said Belcher's mother told police they had recently been
Belcher is the latest among
several players and NFL retirees to die from self-inflicted gunshot
wounds in the past couple of years. The death of the beloved star Junior
Seau, who shot himself in the chest in at his California home in May,
sent shockwaves around the league.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James
said that he spoke to Pioli after the incident, and while he refused to
discuss the GM's emotional state, the mayor said Pioli was "extremely
concerned that fans of this team are not disappointed and not left in
"I think they think there's
an obligation to the people of this city, the fans of the team and the
fans of the other team to play the game," James said.
The season has been a
massive disappointment for the Chiefs, who were expected to contend for
the AFC West title. They're just 1-10 and mired in an eight-game losing
streak marked by injuries, poor play and fan upheaval, with calls for
Pioli and Crennel to be fired.
The Twitter account for a
fan group known as "Save Our Chiefs" recently surpassed 80,000
followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd at a recent game.
"The Oakland Raiders are
empathizing with the Chiefs organization," the Chiefs' AFC West rivals
said in a statement. "Our hearts are wounded by such an unimaginable
tragedy in our NFL family."
For more on this story, visit FOX 12's sister station website in Kansas City: KCTV5.com.
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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