Jovan Belcher's friends gathered Saturday at a makeshift shrine outside his childhood home in West Babylon, crying and comforting each other while struggling to make sense of his violent end.
Belcher shot his girlfriend to death in their Kansas City home Saturday morning and then killed himself in front of his coach at Arrowhead Stadium, authorities said. The 25-year-old football player and Kasandra Perkins, 22, had a 3-month-old girl together.
Stunned family and friends said the violence was out of character for the jovial, carefree athlete.
"The guy always had a smile on his face. He would just wrap his arms around you," said Belcher's uncle, Willis Miles, 53, of West Babylon. Miles' sister, who is Belcher's mom, witnessed Perkins' slaying and called police.
Ollie Roy, 30, said Belcher, a childhood friend and neighbor, wasn't a violent person.
"I hadn't seen nothing like that in him," he said.
Ruben Marshall, a family friend who served as Belcher's Police Athletic League coach, said news of the murder-suicide ran counter to everything he knew about his star player.
"I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it," he said. "He was a good person."
Saturday night, as several dozen mourners gathered, childhood friends and relatives recalled Belcher's visit home last summer, during which they reveled in their hometown hero's success.
Miles said his nephew acted like "a proud new father," and Belcher and his girlfriend seemed happy.
"Whatever personal problems they had, I didn't know about it," Miles said.
With Candice Ferrette
Jovan Belcher's bio
NAME: Jovan Belcher
BORN: July 24, 1987
HOMETOWN: West Babylon
COLLEGE: At University of Maine, played outside linebacker for two seasons, then switched to defensive end. Was Colonial Athletic Association defensive player of the year in 2008 and was first-team All-American pick on the Football Championship Subdivision team.
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs, 2009-12. Signed as free agent in 2009. Started all 16 games last season and had a career-high of 120 tackles. This season, started 10 of 11 games at left inside linebacker and had 38 tackles.