KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, a former high school star in West Babylon, shot his girlfriend to death Saturday at their home and then killed himself in front of three team officials at Arrowhead Stadium, police said.
Belcher, 25, and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, 22, had a 3-month-old daughter, authorities said. They said the child is now in the custody of Belcher's mother, who witnessed the first shooting and called 911.
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The murder-suicide stunned his team as well as his former coaches in West Babylon, who called him a role model, well-liked and with nothing in his past that could have predicted such violence.
"I never got any vibes about something like this," said Frank Riviezzo, who was the defensive coordinator at West Babylon when Belcher played there.
Police said Belcher and Perkins were arguing before the shooting. A friend of Perkins' who asked not to be identified said the couple argued after the woman was out late attending a concert by R&B artist Trey Songz, The Kansas City Star reported.
"Something went crazy wrong, and we'll probably never know what it is," his agent Joe Linta was quoted as saying on SI.com, adding he "never in a million years" thought the player was capable of such violence.
Belcher, a fourth-year player and starter, earned $1.927 million with the Chiefs, who at 1-10 have the NFL's worst record.
Police spokesman Darin Snapp told Newsday Saturday afternoon that Belcher's mother, who was in town for a weekend visit, reported the shooting shortly before 8 a.m. Perkins, shot multiple times, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Snapp said Belcher left the home, then drove to the Chiefs' practice facility by Arrowhead, the team's home field. Belcher pulled up to the entrance of the training facility and had a gun, which was reported to police by a security guard on duty.
Snapp said Pioli, Crennel and an unidentified person went out to talk to Belcher.
"Belcher thanked them for being a Chief, and that's when he walked away," Snapp said. When he was 30 or 40 feet away, Belcher fired one shot to his head as the three men looked on.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James went to Arrowhead and met with Pioli afterward, according to The Kansas City Star.
"Think about your worst nightmare and multiply it by five," James said.
Perkins was originally from Texas. Devene Dunson-Rusher, who said she was a close friend of hers, told Newsday they had chatted about babies at the grocery store "the other day." She thought that the couple was happy.
"Kasandra and Jovan, when I was here, it seemed like they loved each other," said Dunson-Rusher, of Independence, Mo.
Brianne York, who lives 15 minutes from the couple, said she became close friends with Perkins in January while they were students at Metropolitan Community College in Lee's Summit, Mo.
York said Belcher and Perkins were "very happy to be new parents" and it showed when she visited the couple in the hospital after Perkins gave birth. The couple met three years ago, York said. A cousin of Perkins' who is married to another Chiefs player introduced them, she said.
In a statement, Chiefs chairman and chief executive Clark Hunt said: "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."
Belcher graduated in 2005 from West Babylon High School, where he played linebacker, tackle, nose guard and fullback. As a wrestler, he was a three-time All-America selection.
He went on to become a star linebacker at the University of Maine, where he graduated with a degree in child development.
Maine football coach Jack Cosgrove said Belcher was a "tremendous student-athlete" in a statement released by the school.
Belcher joined the Chiefs in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. He became a starting inside linebacker this season.
"His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams," Cosgrove said. "This is an indescribably horrible tragedy. At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Jovan, Kasandra and their families."
With Robert Brodsky, Candice Ferrette, Scott Eidler, Alex Silverman and McClatchy Newspapers