Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager, thanking them for all they'd done before turning the gun on himself.
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 girl who was being cared for by family.
Police spokesman Darin Snapp says Belcher's mother recently had moved in with the couple, possibly to help with the baby. She called police just before 8 a.m. local time to report Perkins had been shot multiple times. Perkins was transported to a hospital, where she died a short time later.
Snapp said Belcher thanked Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel for all they had done for him, then shot himself.
The Chiefs say Sunday's home game against the Carolina Panthers will go on as scheduled.
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."
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. Snapp said a call was then received from the Chiefs' facility.
"The description matched the suspect description from that other address. We kind of knew what we were dealing with," he 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."
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."
Tough season for Chiefs
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said that he spoke to Pioli after the shooting
"I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea what it's like to see someone kill themselves," James said. "You can take your worst nightmare and put someone you know and love in that situation, and give them a gun and stand three feet away and watch them kill themselves...Think about your worst nightmare and multiply it by five."
James refused to discuss the GM's emotional state but 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.
Kansas City is scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The league has informed the Panthers to travel as scheduled because the game is going on as scheduled.
The season has been a massive disappointment for the Chiefs, who were expected to contend for the AFC West title.
They're just 1-10 and mired in an eight-game losing streak that has been marked by devastating injuries and fan upheaval, with constant calls the past few weeks for Pioli and Crennel to be fired.
Things have been so bad this season that Crennel fired himself as defensive co-ordinator.
The Chiefs have been ravaged by injuries, led the league in turnovers, can't settle on a quarterback and are dealing with a full-fledged fan rebellion. The Twitter account for a fan group known as "Save Our Chiefs" recently surpassed 80,000 followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd at a recent game.