Tue, Jul 07, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Police investigate McNair homicide

AP , NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Former American football player Steve McNair’s shooting death was a homicide, police said on Sunday, but authorities stopped short of saying it was a murder-suicide committed by the 20-year-old girlfriend found dead by his side.

McNair, 36, was shot four times, twice in the head, by a semiautomatic pistol, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said.

The woman, Sahel Kazemi, was killed by a single gunshot wound and the pistol was found under her body, Aaron said.

Aaron said the two had been in a “dating relationship for [the] past several months.”

Asked if the deaths could have caused by a lover’s quarrel, Aaron said: “That’s a very important part of the investigation as we work to ultimately classify Miss Kazemi’s death.”

Police said they need to do more interviews with friends of Kazemi and McNair before they rule on whether her death was a suicide, Aaron said.

McNair, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was married with four children. He and Kazemi were found dead on Saturday afternoon at a Nashville condominium he shared with a friend, and police said on Sunday that it appears the two died in the early morning.

Police earlier said they weren’t looking for any suspects and do not believe McNair’s wife was involved. Mechelle McNair, mother of two of his four sons, was expected to collect her husband’s belongings from authorities.

“She’s still very upset, very distraught,” agent Bus Cook said.

McNair led the famous Tennessee Titans’ drive that came a yard short of forcing overtime in the 2000 Super Bowl, before the Titans traded him to the Baltimore Ravens in 2006.

“On the field, there isn’t a player that was as tough as him,” the Ravens’ Derrick Mason said.

McNair retired last year and had recently opened a restaurant in Nashville.

A Nashville neighbor saw McNair, 36, at Kazemi’s Nashville apartment so often — two to three times a week — that she thought McNair had moved in. McNair never tried to hide his presence but kept to himself.

Neighbor Reagan Howard said Kazemi was often dropped off in the early morning hours by a limousine and upgraded recently from her Kia to a Cadillac Escalade.

“It was pretty obvious that she was taken with him,” Howard said.

McNair and Kazemi had been together just two days earlier when she was pulled over driving a 2007 Escalade registered to her and McNair. She was arrested on a DUI charges, and he was allowed to leave in a taxi.

The bodies were discovered by McNair’s longtime friend, Wayne Neeley, who rents the condo in the upscale Rutledge Hill neighborhood with McNair.

Neeley then called Robert Gaddy, who had been friends with McNair since they played at Alcorn State. Gaddy alerted authorities.

Cook said he was not aware that McNair was seeing Kazemi, a woman whose name the agent learned about through reports of the shooting.

“It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know what to say,” Cook said.

Police said a witness saw McNair arrive at the condo early on Saturday and that Kazemi’s vehicle was already there. The condominium is located within walking distance of an area filled with restaurants and nightspots, a few blocks from the Cumberland River and within view of the Titans’ stadium.

An arrest affidavit from Thursday said Kazemi had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath when she was pulled over, but refused a breathalyzer test, saying “she was not drunk, she was high.”

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