Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher committed suicide in front of the team's coach and general manager at the training facility Saturday after killing his girlfriend in a separate shooting, Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp said.
Belcher shot himself in the head in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel while standing just outside the team's practice facility near Arrowhead Stadium at 8:10 a.m. local time, Snapp said.
Belcher drove to the Chiefs' facility after shooting Kasandra Perkins, his 22-year-old girlfriend, in a house he was leasing, Snapp told NFL.com's Albert Breer. Police also said Belcher's mother witnessed the shooting and called 911. Belcher and Perkins had a 3-month-old daughter together.
"About (7:50 a.m), we got a call to a residence, in regards to a shooting, on the 5400 block of Crysler Avenue," Snapp said in a telephone interview. "The young woman was taken to a local hospital, where she died a short time later.
"At about 8:10 a.m., we received a call to the Arrowhead practice facility in regards to a black male armed with a gun in the parking lot, and he matched the description of the shooting suspect," Snapp continued. "Officers arrived, saw a black man with a gun to his head, and some Chiefs employees. As the officer got out of his car, he heard a gunshot. It appeared the individual shot himself. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead."
Pioli, Crennel and another unnamed Chiefs staff member were talking to Belcher just before he shot himself, Snapp told Breer and NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. Snapp said Pioli and Crennel "never felt like they were in danger." Belcher thanked Pioli and Crennel for all they had done for him.
When officers arrived, Belcher walked in the opposite direction from where officers were standing. He then shot himself, according to Snapp.
Snapp said the shooting occurred just outside the front doors of the Chiefs' facility.
|Jovan Belcher was in his fourth season as a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was 25. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)|
"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," the statement read. "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.
"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."
The NFL released a statement offering its condolences: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."
Kansas City mayor Sly James told The Associated Press he spoke to Pioli after the incident. The mayor said Pioli was "extremely concerned that fans of this team are not disappointed and not left in the cold."
"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.
Belcher, 25, grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and played for University of Maine. There, he was named first-team All-American in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. After going undrafted in 2009, the Chiefs signed Belcher as a free agent. The fourth-year pro was named a starting linebacker in 2011.