Nov 29, 2009; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher (59) during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 43-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend and then committed suicide at the team's practice facility Saturday morning, police confirmed.
Kansas City Police spokesman Darin Snapp told USA TODAY Sports earlier in the day that a Chiefs player killed his girlfriend and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where he shot himself in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.
Snapp confirmed that the couple's infant daughter is safe and in the care of a Belcher's mother, who police said lived with the couple in a house leased by Belcher.
Snapp identified the dead woman as Sandra Perkins, 22.
Snapp said police first responded to a call at 7:50 a.m. CT that a woman had been shot. She was taken to the hospital where she died. At around 8:10 a.m., Snapp said police received a call from Arrowhead Stadium security command reporting that a black male was in the parking lot armed with a gun. Officers observed the man with the gun held to his head.
"The suspect walked in the opposite direction and shot himself," Snapp said. "After talking to Crennel and Pioli, they said he was a good kid. He thanked them for everything they had done for him before walking away."
Crennel's agent Joe Linta told USA TODAY Sports in a text that his client was OK.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said he spoke with Pioli, who was "very emotional about this."
"Imagine your worst nightmare and multiply by five," said James, who was at the team facility.
In a statement, the team 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. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted.
"We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization."
The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. A police official told USA TODAY Sports that as of now the game is still on. The official requested anonymity because no announcement has been made.
The Chiefs had a meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m., and tackle Eric Winston said he was at the facility when the shooting occurred.
"It's just all very sad. There's rumors going around. But I don't really know. We're still finding out," Winston said. "We were all just shuttled out of there pretty fast."
"Like a lot of guys, I'm still trying to talk to a lot of the guys.''
The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person tweeted that the NFL has advised the Panthers to travel as planned.
The NFL also released a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. 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."
Belcher, 25, was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine, where he won 2008 CAA Conference defensive player of the year. He was in his fourth season with the Chiefs. He was a restricted free agent this past offseason and signed the second-round tender with the $1.927 million base salary that came with it.
"People think how can a young man with the world in front of him, making good money and playing on a national stage, do something like that?," former Chiefs running back Tony Richardson told USA TODAY Sports. "But you just don't understand the mental state of what some people are dealing with. It's sad.''
Those close to Belcher during his college playing days recalled his love of family, making the tragic news all the more senseless. His position coach at that time, Dwayne Wilmot, recalled the easiest way to make Belcher smile was to tell him his mother was coming to a game. More than anything, Belcher wanted to make his brood proud.
"Family was paramount for Jovan. you could see it at every game," said Wilmot, now a coach at Yale. "His family showed up in force. He relished the opportunity to make them proud as a student and an athlete. He did what he did for their love and their adulation.
"I'm devastated right now," he added. "Trying to hold together."
To the Maine athletics community, Belcher was a light -- the long shot who reached the pinnacle in the NFL. His native Long Island is not considered a pro football hotbed, and he converted from outside linebacker to defensive end during his college career. Belcher then made the tricky switch to inside linebacker for the Chiefs as a rookie in 2009.
"What you saw was the burning desire to be successful," Wilmot said. "If he had the opportunity, he'd make the most of it ... This is a tragic end. But his life had a greater good than just this tragic end."
This is not the first time tragedy has struck the Chiefs organization.
In February 2000, star linebacker Derrick Thomas of the Chiefs died from injuries sustained in an auto accident weeks earlier. Thomas was a Pro Bowler in nine of his 11 seasons with the Chiefs. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1983, Kansas City running back Joe Delaney drowned while trying to rescue three children who were struggling in a pond in Monroe, La. Though an inexperienced swimmer, Delaney made the rescue attempt. Two of the children also drowned. Delaney was a Pro Bowler in just his second season with the Chiefs in 1982.
Contributing: Jim Corbett, Jeffrey Flanagan, Lindsay Jones, Gary Mihoces, Jon Saraceno