American Footballer and Super Bowl winner for the New Orleans Saints, Will Smith, 34, was shot and killed by a driver in a possible revenge attack.
Smith was driving with his wife when his car was rear-ended by his attacker who then pulled out a gun and started firing during an altercation over the accident.
Smith’s wife was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds to the leg. The attacker, 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, is in custody on second degree murder charges.
It has emerged that a former police chief who dined with New Orleans Saints star just hours before his death was named in a lawsuit by the alleged shooter.
According to reports, just one hour before his death, Smith was pictured with former New Orleans Police Department commander Billy Ceravolo and former New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas.
There is speculation that the shooting was a revenge attack after it emerged that Ceravolo was named in Hayes’ lawsuit against the city for a police shooting that killed his father, Anthony Hayes, in 2005.
The Daily Mail reports:
Smith, 34, a 2010 Super Bowl winner, was on his way home from dinner when he was rear-ended by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, who was driving an H2 Hummer, according to the Advocate.
The impact caused Smith’s Mercedes Benz SUV to rear-end the Chevy Impala in front of him, driven by his friend, according to CBS News.
Smith then walked over to confront Hayes and the two men exchanged words, NOLA.com reported.
It is unclear when Smith walked back to his car after confronting the 28-year-old, but Hayes allegedly pulled out a handgun and unleashed a barrage of bullets at Smith and his wife, Racquel R. Joseph Smith.
Hayes has been booked into jail on second degree murder charged
‘The driver of the Hummer shot Smith multiple times and his 34-year-old wife twice in the right leg,’ NOPD spokesman Juan Barnes said in a statement.
Smith died slumped behind the wheel of his car but his wife, who was shot in the leg twice, according to NBC Sports, was transported to a nearby hospital and is expected to recover.
Smith and Racquel R. Joseph Smith, 33, have three children together.
Instagram posts from Racquel show the family, two sons and a daughter, beaming smiles lounging on the couch and posing for holiday card pictures.
Hayes stayed at the crime scene until police arrived, the New York Daily News reported.
A witness at the scene, Janis Baehr, a tourist in town for the French Quarter Festival, said she was walking near the intersection and heard six to eight gunshots, NOLA.com reported.
Smith’s bullet-ridden vehicle was towed away shortly after the shooting by police.
Just hours before his death Smith posted on Instagram that he and Racquel were ‘having a blast’ at the city’s French Quarter Festival.
NBC New Orleans Sports anchor Fletcher Mackel posted an image of Washington Redskins running back Pierre Thomas with Smith and former New Orleans Police Department commander Billy Ceravolo.
Thomas was on scene when Smith died and was seen looking distraught over his friend’s death.
The photo, allegedly taken an hour before Smith’s death, showed Thomas wearing the same shirt as he was when photographed at the scene of Smith’s murder.
New Orleans Saints spokesman Greg Bensel wrote on social media that the death of the player was a ‘senseless and tragic loss’.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Will Smith — his wife Racquel — his children William, Wynter and Lisa,’ Bensel wrote in a tweet.
Friends of the star athlete, who was instrumental in the Saints 2010 Super Bowl win, have tweeted out their heartbreak over losing Smith.
‘Sick to my stomach! This one hurts,’ San Francisco 49ers running back Reggie Bush said.
‘Devastated. Lord please be with the Smith family at this tragic time. Nonsense man…’ said Saints running back Mark Ingram II.
New Orleans native, singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr tweeted: ‘Praying for the wife and family of @Saints will smith… RIP.’
A statement released on behalf of the Smith family called the football star a ‘devoted husband, father and friend’.
Smith played at Ohio State and played nine seasons with the Saints after being selected 18th overall in the 2004 NFL draft, NBC News reported.
He was sidelined for the 2013 season with a knee injury then signed by the New England Patriots in 2014.
The Patriots released Smith later that year.
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