UPDATE: KC player kills girlfriend, commits suicide

1:39 AM, Dec 2, 2012   |    comments
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KANSAS CITY, Missouri (USA Today)-- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and then committed suicide at the team's practice facility Saturday morning, police confirmed.

Police spokesman Darin Snapp told USA TODAY Sports earlier in the day that a Chiefs player killed his girlfriend and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.

Snapp said police first responded to a call at 7:50 a.m. CT that a woman had been shot. She was taken to the hospital where she died. At around 8:10 a.m., Snapp said police received a call from Arrowhead Stadium security command reporting that a black male was in the parking lot armed with a gun. Officers observed the man with the gun held to his head.

"The suspect walked in the opposite direction and shot himself," Snapp said. "After talking to Crennel and Pioli, they said he was a good kid. He thanked them for everything they had done for him before walking away."

Crennel's agent Joe Linta told USA TODAY Sports in a text that his client was OK.

The Chiefs had a meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Chiefs tackle Eric Winston could not confirm Belcher's identity but told USA TODAY Sports he was at the facility when the shooting occurred.

"It's just all very sad. There's rumors going around. But I don't really know. We're still finding out," Winston said. "We were all just shuttled out of there pretty fast."

"Like a lot of guys, I'm still trying to talk to a lot of the guys.''

The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person tweeted that the NFL has advised the Panthers to travel as planned.

This is not the first time tragedy has struck the Chiefs organization.

In February 2000, star linebacker Derrick Thomas of the Chiefs died from injuries sustained in an auto accident weeks earlier. Thomas was a Pro Bowler in nine of his 11 seasons with the Chiefs. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 1983, Kansas City running back Joe Delaney drowned while trying to rescue three children who were struggling in a pond in Monroe, La. Though an inexperienced swimmer, Delaney made the rescue attempt. Two of the children also drowned. Delaney was a Pro Bowler in just his second season with the Chiefs in 1982.

Belcher, 25, was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine where he won 2008 CAA Conference defensive player of the year. He was in his fourth season with the Chiefs. He was a restricted free agent this past offseason and signed the second-round tender with the $1.927-million base salary that came with it.

Those close to Belcher during his college playing days recalled his love of family, making the tragic news all the more senseless. His position coach at that time, Dwayne Wilmot, recalled the easiest way to make Belcher smile was to tell him his mother was coming to a game. More than anything, Belcher wanted to make his brood proud.

"Family was paramount for Jovan. you could see it at every game," said Wilmot, now a coach at Yale. "His family showed up in force. He relished the opportunity to make them proud as a student and an athlete. He did what he did for their love and their adulation.

"I'm devastated right now," he added. "Trying to hold together."

To the Maine athletics community, Belcher was a light -- the longshot who reached the pinnacle in the NFL. His native Long Island is not considered a pro football hotbed, and he converted from outside linebacker to defensive end during his college career. Belcher then made the tricky switch to inside linebacker for the Chiefs as a rookie in 2009.

What you saw was the burning desire to be successful," Wilmot said. "If he had the opportunity, he'd make the most of it ... This is a tragic end. But his life had a greater good than just this tragic end."

Jim Corbett, Lindsay Jones, Gary Mihoces contributed to this report.

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