Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend early Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager, police said.
Authorities did not immediately release a possible motive for the murder-suicide, which stunned the team and came one day before a home game against the Carolina Panthers. The NFL said the game would go on as scheduled.
Belcher was a 25-year-old native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, played college ball at Maine. He had played all four of his NFL seasons for the Chiefs and played in every game each year, including the 11 so far this season.
According to KMBC, Belcher shot his girlfriend around 8 a.m. Saturday.
Police spokesman Darin Snapp said a call was then received from the Chiefs' practice facility. Upon arriving, Snapp said that police witnessed a black male in a car with a handgun to his head talking to two Chiefs officials.
"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."
Before turning the gun on himself, Belcher thanked Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel for all they had done for him.
Belcher was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Kansas City Chiefs Chairman & CEO Clark Hunt released this statement:
"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 cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”
Snapp described the girlfriend as in her early 20s and that she and the player had a child together. He said the woman's mother told police they had recently been arguing.
Kansas City is scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.