Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Murder-suicide stuns Chiefs

Not known why Belcher killed girlfriend, self

  • Print

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Saturday morning and minutes later, holding a gun to his head, thanked his general manager and coach before shooting himself outside the teams's practice complex.

Authorities did not release a 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 three-month-old girl who was being cared for by family.

Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before pulling the trigger, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Officers had locked down the Chiefs facility by midmorning.

The team said it would play its home game against the Carolina Panthers as scheduled today at noon "after discussions between the league office, head Coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains."

A spokesman for the team told The Associated Press that Crennel plans to coach today.

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 as an undrafted free agent, made the team and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup. He had 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 co-operate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counselling 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 counsellors 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 eight kilometres from the Arrowhead Stadium complex. The call came from Belcher's mother, who referred to the victim as her daughter, leading to some initial confusion.

"She treated Kasandra like a daughter," Snapp said. Belcher's mother, who is from New York, had recently moved in with the couple, "probably to help out with the baby," Snapp 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.

"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."

At the home of Belcher's mother on Long Island, relatives declined to talk to reporters.

The sombre mood lightened somewhat as darkness fell, with music playing and people drinking from Styrofoam cups. Belcher's family turned the front yard into a shrine, with a large poster of the player, an array of his trophies, and jerseys and jackets from Kansas City, Maine and West Babylon High.

"He was a good, good person... a family man. A loving guy," said family friend Ruben Marshall, 42, who said he coached Belcher in youth football. He was stunned by the shooting and suicide. "You couldn't be around a better person."

At least 20 people gathered for a large group hug in the driveway.

"I still can't believe it," neighbour Roy Brown said. "I don't believe it."

Perkin's Facebook page shows the couple smiling and holding the baby.

"His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams," said Jack Cosgrove, who coached Belcher at Maine. "This is an indescribably horrible tragedy."

Belcher is the latest among several players and NFL retirees to die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the past couple of years. The death of the beloved star Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest at his California home last May, sent shockwaves around the league.

Seau's family, like those of other suicide victims, has donated his brain tissue to determine if head injuries he sustained playing football might be linked to his death.

Belcher did not have an extensive injury history, though the linebacker showed up on the official injury report on Nov. 11, 2009, as being limited in practice with a head injury. Belcher played four days later against the Oakland Raiders.

Earlier this year, the NFL provided a grant to help establish an independently operated phone service that connects players, coaches, team officials and other staff with counsellors trained to work through personal and emotional crises. The NFL Life Line is available 24 hours a day.

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. That's what it's like.

"It's unfathomable."

The season has been a massive disappointment for the Chiefs, who were expected to contend for the AFC West title. They're 1-10 and mired in an eight-game losing streak marked by injuries, poor play and fan upheaval, with constant calls the past several weeks for Pioli and Crennel to be fired.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 2, 2012 B6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Faron Hall honoured by Mayor Sam Katz - May 6, 2009

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google