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Police confirm woman found dead with McNair bought gun used in homicide

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Police in Nashville, Tenn., said Monday that the gun found at the scene where former NFL quarterback Steve McNair died was bought by his girlfriend, 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, less than two days before the two were shot to death.

AP Photo/Davidson County Sheriff via The Tennessean / Associated Press
Sahel Kazemi, 20, was found shot to death Saturday in Nashville, Tenn., alongside former NFL QB Steve McNair, whom she had been dating.

NFL.com's Steve Wyche reports that the gun -- a pistol -- was purchased from an unnamed individual Thursday night, hours after Kazemi was arrested for a DUI, police said. She was driving a Cadillac Escalade, whose title included her and McNair's name. McNair was in the vehicle when Kazemi was arrested, but he was allowed to leave in a taxi.

Kazemi and McNair were found dead Saturday in a Nashville condominium leased by the former Titans star, and an autopsy showed that they had died earlier in the day. McNair was shot four times, and his death has been ruled a homicide. She was shot once, and Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said police are still waiting for ballistic and gunpowder residue tests before deciding if she was slain or committed suicide.

Aaron said that as far as he knows, McNair wasn't with Kazemi when she bought the gun.

Earlier in the day, Farzin Abdi said police told him about the gun purchase by his aunt, Kazemi, who was raised with him like a sister. Abdi said police told him they are almost sure that Kazemi was the shooter, but the 27-year-old nephew said he doesn't believe she would do it.

"There was no way she was depressed and wanting to do this," he said. "She was so happy. ... She just had it made, you know, (with) this guy taking care of everything."

Abdi said Kazemi believed McNair was divorcing his wife and she was preparing to sell her furniture to move in with him. Nashville courts had no record of a McNair divorce case, but a 14,000-square-foot home he owned in Nashville is on the market for $3 million.

Mechelle McNair has been described as very distraught about her husband's death and hasn't commented on it.

Before the shooting, the public knew nothing of Kazemi's relationship with McNair, who had earned the respect of his fellow NFL players for shaking off defenders and injuries and the love of fans amazed at how the quarterback kept showing up for work -- and winning. McNair further endeared himself with his charity work -- not just from the checks he handed out, but for throwing himself into the efforts, like he did when loading boxes onto tractor-trailers bound for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Publicly, McNair was a happily married man and proud father of four sons who split his time between his farm in Mississippi and a home in Nashville, where celebrities are cherished, not hassled. However, his death thrust a darker side of his private life into the spotlight.

"People have certain things that they do in life," said McNair's longtime friend, Robert Gaddy, who called 911. "We don't need to look on the situation at this time, (but) on the fact we just lost a great member of society."

Even McNair's longtime agent said he didn't know about the former quarterback's relationship with Kazemi.

"As good as he was on the football field, that couldn't touch the person," agent Bus Cook said Sunday, still shaken by McNair's death. "I mean it just couldn't."


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Hints of a problem with alcohol surfaced in May 2003 when a Nashville police officer pulled McNair over on suspicion of drunk driving. Police said the quarterback's blood-alcohol content was 0.18 percent -- well over Tennessee's legal limit. He also was charged with having a 9mm weapon with him, but all the charges were later dropped.

McNair was charged with drunken driving in 2007 because he let his brother-in-law drive his pickup truck. Those charges were later dropped when the DUI charge against the brother-in-law was reduced to reckless driving.

And McNair could have been charged again Thursday night when the same officer who arrested him in 2003 stopped the Escalade driven by Kazemi.

Police labeled McNair's death a homicide Sunday, revealing that he had been shot four times -- twice in the head, twice in the chest -- when found in a rented condominium he shared with a longtime friend, Wayne Neeley. Police found a semiautomatic pistol under Kazemi's body, but Aaron said they were reviewing every possibility, interviewing friends of both before labeling Kazemi's death.

Detectives interviewed Kazemi’s former boyfriend, Keith Norfleet, on Sunday night, and he was fully cooperative, according to police.

On the football field, the quarterback simply was "Air McNair," a winner. McNair still holds the NCAA's Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) records for career passing yards (14,496) and total offense (16,823) from his days at tiny Alcorn State in Mississippi.

McNair played 13 NFL seasons, starting with the then-Houston Oilers, and led Tennessee to its famous last-second Super Bowl XXXIV loss to the St. Louis Rams. He ended his career with Baltimore in 2007, after being traded away by the Titans after they drafted Vince Young as a replacement to the aching and expensive veteran.

McNair's friends want the quarterback to be remembered for his generosity. He gave away turkeys and checks in Tennessee, toys in Baltimore and paid for three football camps himself this year. On Saturday, Cook talked to someone who saw McNair cleaning up the field after one camp at Southern Mississippi.

"That was Steve McNair," an emotional Cook recalled. "That's who he is. And who he was."

A viewing will be held Thursday at a Nashville funeral home, followed by another viewing at Mount Zion Baptist Church with a memorial service Thursday night. A second funeral service will be held Saturday morning in Reed Green Coliseum, on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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