Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher today committed suicide outside the club’s Arrowhead Stadium home minutes after shooting and killing his girlfriend, authorities have confirmed.
Belcher shot his girlfriend, identified by police as 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, at their Kansas City home before driving to the Chiefs’ training facility and turning a gun on himself.
Perkins was taken to hospital with multiple gunshot wounds but was declared dead a short time later.
The couple had a three-month-old child together.
Police confirmed 25-year-old Belcher had been seen in conversation with Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel in the moments before he shot himself, during which time he reportedly thanked them for their support during his career.
Kansas City Police Department spokesman Darin Snapp confirmed details of the apparent murder-suicide in a video posted on the Kansas City Star website.
“A little before 8am this morning we got a call to a residence on Crysler (Avenue) with regard to a shooting,” Snapp confirmed.
“When officers arrived, a lady came out to say that her daughter had been shot multiple times by her boyfriend, and she identified him as Belcher, being a Chiefs player.
“At around 8.10am we received a call from the Arrowhead security stating that there was an individual – they identified him as Belcher – with a gun to his head standing in the parking lot.
“When we arrived, officers were getting out of the car and observed Scott Pioli and also coach Romeo Crennel and another individual were outside talking to Belcher.
“When the officers approached and tried to get into the conversation, that’s when Belcher turned around, walked approximately 30 feet in the opposite direction of everybody, and shot himself.”
A statement on the Chiefs’ official website, kcchiefs.com, earlier confirmed an incident had occurred outside the stadium and that an investigation was under way.
“We can confirm that there was an incident at Arrowhead earlier this morning. We are co-operating with authorities in their investigation,” the statement read.
The Chiefs are due to host the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium tomorrow.
There had been widespread speculation that the game would be postponed to a later date in the wake of the tragedy, but the Chiefs confirmed in a statement that they would take to the field as planned.
“After discussions between the league office, head coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains, the Chiefs advised the NFL that it will play tomorrow’s game vs. the Carolina Panthers at its originally scheduled time,” the statement read.
Chiefs chairman and chief executive Clark Hunt had earlier expressed the club’s distress at the day’s events, saying: “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.
“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.
“We will continue to fully co-operate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counselling resources are available to all members of the organisation.”
Belcher, who was in his fourth year with the Chiefs, grew up on Long Island, New York and, despite showing promise as a high school wrestler, played college football in Maine before entering the NFL draft in 2009.
Despite being projected to be a sixth-round pick, Belcher went undrafted but later agreed a free-agent contract with Kansas City.
Belcher became the franchise’s starting inside linebacker for the 2011 season and had played in all 11 games this season as the Chiefs racked up a lamentable 1-10 record ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with the Panthers.
As news of today’s events emerged, Belcher’s team-mates and peers took to Twitter to pay their respects.
Fellow Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali posted: “I am devastated by this mornings events. I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone effected by this tragedy.”
Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster wrote: “Times like this you have to pray!!! I love you man, brothers for life!!!!”
“This just doesn’t seem real...praying for 59 and his family,” added Chiefs offensive lineman David Mims – 59 was Belcher’s shirt number.
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub said: “Thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the Chiefs organization during this time. So sad.”