Chiefs LB kills self after murder
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Saturday morning and minutes later, holding a gun to his head, thanked his general manager and coach before shooting himself outside the team's practice complex.
Authorities did not release a motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra M. Perkins, 22, had been arguing. Their 3-month-old girl was being cared for recently by family.
Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before pulling the trigger, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Officers had locked down the Chiefs' facility by midmorning.
The team said it would play its home game against the Carolina Panthers as scheduled Sunday after discussions were held among officials from the league office, coach Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs' captains.
A Chiefs spokesman told the AP that Crennel plans to coach.
Belcher, 25, was a native of West Babylon, N.Y., who played in college at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup. He had 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."
The NFL released a statement that also expressed sympathy and said, "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."
Authorities reported receiving a call Saturday from a woman who said her daughter had been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles from Arrowhead Stadium. The call came from Belcher's mother, who referred to the victim as her daughter, leading to some initial confusion.
"She treated Kasandra like a daughter," Snapp said.
Belcher's mother, from New York, recently moved in with the couple, "probably to help out with the baby," Snapp 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.
Belcher is the latest of several NFL retirees or players to die recently from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The self-inflicted death of Junior Seau sent shockwaves around the league, but Seau's family, like those of other suicide victims, donated his brain tissue to determine if head injuries from playing football might be linked to his death.
Belcher did not have an extensive injury history, but his name was on the official injury report Nov. 11, 2009, as being limited in practice with a head injury. He played four days later.
First Published December 2, 2012 12:00 am