A 911 call from the home of Junior Seau released Friday captures the voice of a woman who is horrified to find the former NFL linebacker in a spare bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest.
"My God, my boyfriend shot himself! Oh my God!" the eight-minute call begins.
The woman, who identifies herself as Megan, said she was returning to the home Wednesday morning from a one-hour visit to the gym.
Oceanside police released the recording one day after the San Diego County medical examiner's office ruled the death a suicide. The family plans to donate Seau's brain for research into football-related injuries.
The caller is nearly hysterical and breathing heavily during much of the call as emergency workers guide her through life-saving measures that failed.
"Where is the gun?" the dispatcher asks.
"It's next to him in the bed," she answers.
"What is your boyfriend's name?"
"Junior Seau," she says.
The dispatcher asks where he was shot.
"I can't tell, ma'am. It looks like in the heart," she said.
She told the dispatcher that he did not have a pulse and that his chest was not moving.
"I just came home from the gym, and he's in our spare bedroom, and he shot himself, and it looks like he shot himself in the chest," she says after the dispatcher transferred the call to the fire department.
Nearly five minutes into the call, she goes to the door to allow rescue workers in. She explains again what happened and then begins to sob.
The woman's last name is unintelligible on the recording. Lt. Leonard Mata, a spokesman for Oceanside police, said police aren't releasing the woman's name.
South Carolina star
Seau played for his hometown Chargers for 13 seasons and was also a star at Southern California. There's been no medical evidence that brain injuries from football may have played a role in his death.
San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday he didn't know where the brain will be sent.
"The Seau family really has, almost like Junior, a philanthropic approach, where they always desire to help others," Mitchell said in a phone interview. "The purpose is not initially to discover anything about their son and what led to these tragic circumstances, but rather the betterment of other people and athletes down the road through anything that can be learned through the study."
He said the family was not speculating as to whether concussions were a factor in Seau's suicide.
Garrett Webster, the administrator and player liaison for the Brain Injury Research Institute, said his group has requested that the family donate the brain but hasn't heard back.
"I don't want this to sound too crass, but we've sort of made our pitch," said Webster, the son of the late Hall of Fame centre Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. "We hope the family choses us, but the important thing is somebody's going to get it and it's going to get looked into. Junior Seau was a wonderful man and we're all aware of his work with charities. I wish it never happened. The important thing is, in some way, this will continue his legacy on giving back to the community and helping people."
Webster said it was his understanding that Dr. Bennett Omalu, the co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute, assisted with the autopsy as a professional courtesy, and the trip gave him the opportunity to speak with the family.
Medical examiner's spokeswoman Sarah Gordon said she couldn't comment beyond what her office released regarding the findings of the autopsy.
Officials at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Friday on whether researchers there had reached out to the Seau family. The Boston University centre has analyzed the brains of dozens of former athletes, including that of former Chicago player Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest last year.
Duerson's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the NFL, claiming the league didn't do enough to prevent or treat concussions that severely damaged Duerson's brain before he died in in February 2011.
Another ex-player, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who had joined in a concussion-related lawsuit against the league — one of dozens filed in the last year — shot himself last month at age 62. His wife has said he suffered from depression and dementia after taking years of hits.
Seau's ex-wife, Gina, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he sustained concussions during his 20-year NFL career, during which he also played for Miami and New England.
Mitchell said he never heard Seau complain about dizziness or headaches.
"With Junior, that would be so outside of his nature because he had an amazing threshold for pain," Mitchell said.
Family members and friends have said they weren't aware of any issues that may have led to Seau's suicide. Police said no suicide note was found.
"This is not anything I thought he would ever do," former San Diego Chargers safety Miles McPherson said.