KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Kansas City Chiefs player and Long Island native Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Saturday before fatally shooting himself at the team’s practice facility.
Police confirmed Saturday that Belcher, a linebacker, was involved in a shooting at the Chiefs’ practice facility.
Belcher was a native of Long Island who graduated from West Babylon High School, where he led the prep football team to its first undefeated regular season when he was a senior.
At 8 a.m. Central time Saturday, a shooting was reported in a residential neighborhood in Kansas City, and a second shooting was reported shortly afterward in the practice facility, according to CBS affiliate KCTV-TV, Kansas City.
Officials told KCTV the Chiefs player shot and killed his girlfriend, then drove to the practice facility where he committed suicide.
Authorities did not release a possible motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old 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 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 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.
“She treated Kasandra like a daughter,” Snapp explained. Belcher’s mother, who is from New York, had 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.
“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.”
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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.”
At Belcher’s mother’s home West Babylon, shocked friends and family gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate his life. The mood was somber for hours, but as dark fell a party atmosphere emerged, with loud Hip Hop music playing.
His family turned the front yard into a shrine, with a large poster of the linebacker, trophies, and jerseys, jackets and flags from teams he’s played for.
Belcher’s relatives declined to talk to reporters. A purple sport-utility vehicle in the home’s driveway was flying a small Kansas City Chiefs flag.
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.
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