KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - It began like any other Saturday for the Kansas City Chiefs during the NFL season, their general manager and coach at work early to put final touches on this weekend’s gameplan. Then they got a call to hurry to the parking lot.
Belcher had already killed his girlfriend and sped the short distance to Arrowhead Stadium, right past a security checkpoint guarding the entrance. Upon finding his bosses, Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel for giving him a chance in the NFL. Then he turned away and pulled the trigger.
The murder-suicide shocked a franchise that has been dealing with controversies now made trivial by comparison: eight consecutive losses, injuries too numerous to count, discontent among fans and the prospect that Pioli and Crennel could be fired at season’s end.
Authorities did not release a possible motive while piecing together the case, other than to note that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing frequently.
The two of them left behind a 3-month-old girl. She was being cared for by family.
The Chiefs issued a statement that said their game Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers would go on as scheduled, even as the franchise tried to come to grips with the awfulness of Belcher’s death.
“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 brief a statement.
A spokesman for the team told The Associated Press that Crennel plans to coach on Sunday.
“I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to see someone kill themselves,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who spoke to Pioli shortly after the shootings.
“You can take your worst nightmare and put someone you know and love in that situation, and give them a gun and stand three feet away and watch them kill themselves. That’s what it’s like,” James said. “It’s unfathomable.”
“It was obviously tough for coach to have to tell us that,” Quinn said. “He really wasn’t able to finish talking to us. We got together and prayed and then we moved on.”
But Quinn said the team was so stunned, it was hard to digest what had happened.
“It’s hard mostly because I keep thinking about what I could have done to stop this,” he said. “I think everyone is wondering whether we would have done something to prevent this from happening.”