12.01.12

Jovan Belcher, Kansas City Chiefs Football Player, Snaps

Police say the NFL linebacker killed his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself. ‘He was not that kind of guy,’ Belcher’s grandmother tells Christine Pelisek.

A photo on 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins’s Facebook page shows a young woman smiling broadly as she holds her new baby daughter, Zoey. More photos depict the pretty mother with her boyfriend of two years, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, their baby daughter in his hands. In an earlier post, she captioned a photo of Belcher: “In love with Superman.”

The young couple, who began dating in February 2010 after being introduced by another Chiefs player, seemed to have a promising future. Belcher had a successful NFL career. The former all-American prep wrestler had just signed a one-year contract extension worth $1.927 million with the Chiefs in March. Last season, the 6-foot-2, 228-pound Belcher, who spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Chiefs, posted a career-high 120 tackles to rank second on the team.

He graduated in December 2008 from the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations.

And Perkins, a native of Texas, had moved to Kansas City with their infant daughter to be with him. A friend of Perkins told The Kansas City Star that the mother was a student at the Blue River community college in Independence and had aspirations of being a schoolteacher.

Although their relationship was reportedly “on again, off again” and they argued frequently, the couple rented a home in a nice, quiet middle-class neighborhood in the Kansas City suburb of Independence, only five miles from Arrowhead Stadium.

Now Kansas City police are trying to figure out what prompted the seemingly mild-mannered 25-year-old linebacker with no history of domestic assaults to fatally shoot Perkins and then kill himself as his coaches watched Saturday morning. Police are also looking into where and when Belcher purchased the gun he used.

“It is part of the investigation, and we are still trying to figure it out,” says Kansas City police officer Darin Snapp.

“It is hard to believe,” Belcher’s grandmother tells The Daily Beast. “He was not that kind of guy. No one can understand. We are all trying to find out. He would give you the shirt off his back. We don’t understand what happened.”

Exactly what happened remains unclear. A friend of Perkins’s told The Kansas City Star that the couple began arguing early Saturday morning after Perkins returned home from a Trey Songz concert at the Midland. According to the report, Belcher confronted his girlfriend around 1 a.m.

The police were called to the scene at 7:50 a.m. by Belcher’s mother, who had been visiting from New York, apparently to help out with the baby. She told police that she witnessed the shooting.

“His mother did say that they had been arguing in the last couple of days about life in general,” says Snapp. “They were also arguing before the shooting occurred.”

“He was not that kind of guy. No one can understand. We are all trying to find out.”

But by the time police arrived at the couple’s home on the 5400 block of Crysler Avenue, Belcher had disappeared. Paramedics took Perkins, who had been shot multiple times, to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Twenty minutes later the police were called again to Arrowhead Stadium’s practice facility. Belcher was outside the facility’s front doors in his car with the same handgun to his head, talking to Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel. According to police reports, Belcher thanked the general manager and coach for all they had done for him before pulling the trigger just as police pulled up to the scene.

“I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea of what it’s like to see somebody kill themselves,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James at a press conference. “If you can take your worst nightmare and then put somebody you know and love into that situation and give them a gun and stand three feet away from them and watch them kill themselves, that’s what it’s like. It’s unfathomable. It’s something that you would love to wash away from your mind, but you can’t do it. There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like it. Think about your worst nightmare and multiply by five.”

During his senior season at the University of Maine, Belcher told the Bangor Daily News that he credited his mother and his three sisters for his successes and support.

“My mother is a hardworking woman,” he said. “To see her overcome some things and succeed, it makes me look at things and say, ‘This isn’t even hard.’ I didn’t really have a father figure, so they provided nice guidance for me.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy,” the NFL wrote in a released statement. “We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can.”

The shocking murder-suicide shook the football community.

NFL Players Association assistant executive director George Atallah tweeted: “There is nothing profound or comforting to say that can help us understand or explain a situation like this. We have been in touch with players. At a time like this, we can only come together as a family and a community.”

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey tweeted: “Very sad day in the NFL FAMILY. My prayers go out [to] the Chiefs and families involved.”

The Chiefs are scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“I think that they think there should be a game” Sunday, James said at the press conference. “I think that they believe there’s an obligation to the people of this city and the fans of this team and the fans of the other team to proceed and go forward.”