Former NFL defensive lineman Will Smith killed in double shooting

Suspect charged with second-degree murder


Former NFL defensive lineman Will Smith was shot and killed in an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans late Saturday, authorities said.

New Orleans Coroner Jeffrey C. Rouse confirmed early Sunday the male victim in the double shooting was Smith, 34, according to WVUE-TV. Police said the shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. in the Lower Garden District at the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Streets.

The alleged gunman, Cardell Hayes, 28, was charged with second-degree murder on Sunday. Online court records show Hayes pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count each of possessing an illegal weapon and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Hayes had also once sued city police after they shot and killed his father on Dec. 26, 2005. Hayes and the city settled the federal lawsuit in September 2011, while attorneys were preparing for trial in the case. Court papers don't describe the settlement.

According to the lawsuit, several people told the officers that Antonio Hayes had a history of mental illness. Police said they shot Antonio Hayes after he lunged at them with a 3-inch-long knife. Bystanders had video of officers surrounding Hayes, but not of the shooting. Six officers were defendants in the lawsuit, which said Antonio Hayes was shot at least nine times.

Investigators said Smith and his wife were driving a Mercedes Benz SUV eastbound on Sophie Wright Place on Saturday when he was rear-ended by an individual driving a Hummer H2. The collision caused the Mercedes to hit a Chevrolet Impala traveling along the same street, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Juan Barnes said Smith and the driver of the Hummer got into a confrontation over the accident when the driver of the Hummer pulled out a handgun and “shot (Smith) multiple times and his wife twice in the right leg.”

The Times-Picayune reported Smith was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife was transported to a local hospital. The firearm used in the shooting has been recovered.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Will and his wife Racquel, but more importantly with their children, William, Wynter and Lisa who are suffering and just starting to realize and deal with an unimaginable loss," a statement from the Saints said. "We are devastated and saddened by Will's tragic and preventable death due to a senseless act that will leave a lasting scar on our community forever."

Janis Baehr, a tourist in town for a local festival, told the paper she was walking near in the intersection and heard six gunshots. She said the woman appeared to have two gunshot wounds in her leg. The woman was taken away by an ambulance.

According to the paper, Smith was found slumped over his steering wheel in the vehicle. The SUV appeared to have a gunshot hole in the windshield.

The Orleans Parish coroner was still investigating the scene as of early Sunday morning.

Smith last played for the New Orleans Saints in 2012. He spent his entire nine-year career with the Saints and won a Super Bowl with the team in 2010.

The New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame said Sunday that Smith had been unanimously voted into the hall last month. Hall of Fame President Ken Trahan said the announcement had been scheduled for next month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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