A 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker originally from Long Island, shot his girlfriend early Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and turned the gun on himself as two team officials were confronting him, police said.
Investigators did not release a possible motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old child.
Police said they received a call Saturday morning from Belcher's mother saying Perkins had been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles away from the Arrowhead complex. Perkins was taken to a local hospital where she died a short time later.
Authorities then received a call from the Chiefs' practice facility.
Upon arriving, police witnessed Belcher in a car with a handgun to his head talking to two Chiefs officials. That's when police heard a gunshot.
According to police spokesman Darin Snapp, Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself.
Belcher grew up on Long Island and graduated from West Babylon High School, where he played linebacker, offensive tackle, nose guard and fullback and led his prep team to its first undefeated regular season as a senior. Belcher was also a three-time All-America selection as a prep wrestler for the high school.
After a successful college career playing football for the University of Maine, Belcher joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and became their starting inside linebacker in 2011.
Maine's head football coach, Jack Cosgrove, said Belcher was a "tremendous student-athlete."
"His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams," Cosgrove said. "This is an indescribably horrible tragedy."
At Belcher's mother's home on Long Island, relatives declined to talk to reporters. A purple SUV in the home's driveway was flying a small Kansas City Chiefs flag.
Perkin's Facebook page shows the couple smiling and holding the baby.
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 in at his California home last May, sent shockwaves around the league. Seau's family, like those of other suicide victims, has donated brain tissue from the linebacker's body for research to determine if head injuries he sustained playing football might be linked to his death.
The chiefs, who were expected to contend for the AFC West title, have had a disappointing 2012 season thus far. They're just 1-10 and mired in an eight-game losing streak that has been marked by devastating injuries and fan upheaval, with constant calls the past few weeks for Pioli and Crennel to be fired.
"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.
Kansas City will host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.