In yet another case that will put the NFL and football in a bad light, today Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend, and then drove 10 minutes to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself, committing 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, a girl, who is just three months old.
Belcher reportedly thanked Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and head 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 are at this time still set to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium with a 1pm Eastern kickoff.
The Panthers were advised by the league to travel to Kansas City as planned with a 1:30pm EST flight, 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.”
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.
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.