Chiefs owner Hunt: ‘So many people are hurting’

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt offered his condolences Sunday to the families affected by the murder-suicide involving one of his players, calling it “an incredibly difficult 24 hours for our family and for our organization.”

Hunt spoke to The Associated Press on the field before the Chiefs’ game against the Carolina Panthers. He said the Chiefs consulted with the league about whether to play the game as scheduled, but ultimately left it up to coach Romeo Crennel and the team captains to decide.

Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs were in the parking lot of the Chiefs’ practice facility Saturday morning when linebacker Jovan Belcher shot himself in the head. Belcher had shot his girlfriend multiple times at a nearby residence minutes earlier.

Hunt said Pioli called him from the parking lot immediately after the shooting, and that he flew from his home in the Dallas area to Kansas City on Saturday afternoon.

“I spent the evening last night at the team hotel with them,” Hunt said. “I wanted to be there with the team, with the coaches, to let them know I love them and support them and know what they’re going through, and particularly the guys who were present in the parking lot when Jovan took his life. I know this has to be incredibly difficult.”

The Chiefs had several counselors on hand at the team hotel Saturday night. The NFL and the players’ association have also pledged their support to the team.

Hunt said that Belcher was “a player who had not had a long concussion history.”

Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Maine, and team officials said he was particularly close to Pioli.

“We have a lot of players who were struggling, people who had spent countless hours with Jovan over the last several years, the linebacking group in particular,” Hunt said. “I know it’s going to be difficult for them today. I told them all we can do in a situation like this is pull together as a family and support each other.”

Kansas City police have not released a motive for the shooting of 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, other than to say the couple had been arguing in recent days. They left behind a 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, who was being cared for by family.

The Chiefs intend to help start a foundation to help the infant later in the life.

“We lost two members of the Chiefs family,” Hunt said. “Kasandra was part of our Chiefs women’s organization, and had done things in the community with the CWO group. They have a daughter now, Zoey, who is an orphan. I can’t imagine how difficult that’s going to be for her.”

Some of the Chiefs huddled together in prayer in the tunnel leading to the field prior to pregame stretching. The Chiefs had a moment of silence for all victims of domestic abuse before the national anthem on Sunday. After running back Peyton Hillis scored a touchdown on the opening possession, he ran to the sideline and gave the ball to Crennel along with a hug.

Hunt said that he had a number of conversations Saturday with Commissioner Roger Goodell on whether to play the game against Carolina as scheduled. Ultimately, Hunt asked Crennel to discuss with team captains how they wanted to proceed.

“Of course, the captains had been in conversation with their teammates,” Hunt said, “and they unanimously believed the right thing to do was play the game.”

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