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NFL

Chiefs player kills girlfriend, self

| Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, 6:58 p.m.
REUTERS
Pittsburgh Steelers' Jonathan Dwyer (L) is stopped by Kansas City Chiefs' Jovan Belcher (R) and Justin Houston during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in this November 12, 2012 file photo. Belcher committed suicide December 1, 2012 at the NFL team's practice facility near Arrowhead Stadium after fatally shooting his girlfriend at her home, police reported. REUTERS/David DeNoma/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager, thanking them for all they had done before turning the gun on himself.

Authorities did not release a motive but said Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra M. Perkins, 22, had been arguing recently. They have a 3-month-old girl who was being cared for by family.

Belcher thanked GM Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself in the parking lot of the team's practice facility, police spokesman Darin Snapp said.

The team still will play its home game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Crennel plans to coach.

Belcher, 25, was a native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, who played at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and stayed with the team for four years, moving into the starting lineup.

“The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement.

Authorities received a call Saturday morning from a woman who said her daughter had been shot at a residence about 5 miles from Arrowhead. The call came from Belcher's mother.

“She treated Kasandra like a daughter,” Snapp said. Belcher's mother recently moved in with the couple.

Police then received a call from the training facility. “The description matched the suspect description from that other address,” Snapp said.

“There were Pioli and Crennel and another coach or employee was standing outside and appeared to be talking to him. The suspect began to walk in the opposite direction ... and that's when they heard the gunshot.”

The coaches said they never felt in danger, Snapp said.

“They said the player was actually thanking them for everything they'd done,” he said.

Kansas City mayor Sly James went to Arrowhead and met with Pioli afterward.

“Think about your worst nightmare and multiply it by five,” James said.

Belcher is the latest player or NFL retiree to die from a self-inflicted gunshot in the past couple of years. The death of Junior Seau, who shot himself at his home last May, sent shockwaves around the league.

Seau's family donated his brain tissue to determine if head injuries from football might be linked to his death.

Belcher did not have an extensive injury history, though he showed up on the official injury report on Nov. 11, 2009, as being limited in practice with a head injury.

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