Kansas City Chiefs staff stand outside the team's practice
facility following an apparent murder-suicide involving
linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend in Kansas City
Missouri. REUTERS/Dave Kaup
Kansas City Chiefs starting linebacker Jovan Belcher shot
his girlfriend to death, then drove to the team training
facility and killed himself in front of the coach and general
manager in a burst of violence that stunned the NFL and its
There was no immediate indication from police or others what
prompted the 25-year-old Belcher to shoot Kasandra Perkins,
22 with whom he had a 3-month-old child, in the house they
shared in Kansas City about 3 km from the Chiefs' home field
at Arrowhead Stadium.
Police spokesman Darin Snapp said Perkins' mother witnessed
the killing and called police. Perkins had suffered multiple
gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The mother told investigators that Perkins and Belcher had
argued just before the shooting but that Belcher had never
before been physically abusive with her daughter, Snapp
Belcher then drove his car to the team's training facility
near the stadium, where he encountered head coach Romeo
Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, then shot himself in
the head just as police arrived.
"As officers pulled up and were getting ready to get out of
their car, they heard a gunshot," Snapp said. "The
individual, it appears, took his own life."
Snapp said Belcher had made no threats to Crennel, Pioli or
other employees when he arrived. "He was just talking to them
and thanking them for everything they had done for him," the
police spokesman said.
The suicide of Belcher followed a recent string of former
National Football League players who have taken their own
lives, including Junior Seau in May, Ray Easterling in April
and Dave Duerson last year.
Those deaths heightened growing concerns about the risk of
brain injury from repeated concussions suffered by veteran
NFL players in a game that some critics say has grown too
aggressive and brutal.
At a news conference
later in the day, Kansas City Mayor Sly James decried the
violence as "part of the tragedy of urban living in this
"Handguns all over the place, people blowing themselves away,
and others. At some point, we have to get a handle on this
kind of stuff. We are not doing a good job of it," he said.
He also expressed bewilderment at what drove Belcher to such
"A young man in a high-profile position, for whatever reason,
felt the end of the world had come, and he had to act in the
way he did," James said. "What kind of burden was he under to
Although news of the murder-suicide stunned the tight-knit
NFL community, the Chiefs announced later their game against
the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead would be played as
The Chiefs have won just one of 11 games this season, the
worst record in the NFL.
In a message on the social media network Twitter, Chiefs'
tight end Tony Moeaki wrote: "Devastated. One of everyone's
favorite team mates including one of mine. Great great great
team mate. We will miss him forever."
Belcher was signed by the team in 2009 after he was
overlooked in the NFL draft and established himself as a
regular starter in his second season. Earlier this year, he
signed a one-year deal worth just under $2 million. This
season, Belcher started 10 of 11 games, making 38 tackles.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the
families and friends of those who lost their lives in this
terrible tragedy," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, adding
that professional counselors were being made available to
team members and their families.
The Chiefs' chairman, Clark Hunt, issued a statement offering
sympathy and condolences to "the families and friends
affected by this unthinkable tragedy."
"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," he wrote.
Condolences from others throughout the NFL sprang up on
Twitter, where NFL Players Association assistant executive
George Atallah wrote, "There is nothing profound or
comforting to say that can help us understand or explain a
situation like this."
Defensive end Justin Tuck, a two-time Super Bowl winner with
the New York Giants, tweeted, "Man prayers go out to the KC
Chiefs community and families after this mornings tragic