Former NFL star Steve McNair was shot dead in his sleep last week by a 20-year-old girlfriend distraught about mounting financial problems and her belief that he was seeing someone else, police said on Wednesday.
Sahel Kazemi “was spinning out of control” when she shot McNair four times as he dozed on a sofa early on Saturday, then turned the gun on herself, Police Chief Ronal Serpas said.
Interviews with friends revealed that she was making payments on two cars, her rent was doubling and she suspected the married McNair was having a second affair with another young woman.
She told a friend on Friday: “My life is a ball of shit and I should end it,” Serpas said.
Police earlier had labeled McNair’s death a homicide, but waited for further tests and the revelations about Kazemi’s personal problems before concluding that she pulled the trigger of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol in a condominium McNair rented with a friend.
McNair, 36, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans for most of his career, met Kazemi six months ago at a sports cafe where she was a waitress and his family often ate.
“We do know that she was clearly sending a message during the last five to seven days of her life that things were going bad quickly,” Serpas said, though there was no indication she told anyone that she planned to harm McNair.
Serpas said detectives learned that Kazemi recently found out about another young woman she thought McNair was romantically involved with and had even followed that woman home, though she did not confront her.
Serpas said police believe McNair was asleep when he was killed because there were no defensive wounds. After shooting McNair in the head, Kazemi apparently shot him twice in the chest before shooting him again in the head.
Before shooting herself, she sat next to his body and “tried to stage it so she would fall in his lap,” Serpas said.
She did, but her body slid to the floor and ended up at McNair’s feet. The gun was found underneath her.
Kazemi’s family told reporters that the woman was so confident that McNair was divorcing his wife of 12 years that she was preparing to sell her furniture and move in with him.
But associate Mike Mu, who has worked with McNair’s charitable association for years, said earlier on Wednesday that McNair’s wife, Mechelle McNair, “didn’t know who this girl is.”
No records of divorce proceedings have surfaced. The McNairs have four children.
Two days before the shooting, police stopped Kazemi driving a sport utility vehicle that McNair had given her for her birthday in May.
According to an arrest affidavit, Kazemi had bloodshot eyes and alcohol on her breath. She refused a breath test and was charged with driving under the influence. McNair was with her but not charged. He later made her bail.
Serpas said that even though both her name and McNair’s were on the SUV’s title, she was apparently responsible for making payments.
She was also making payments on another car after she couldn’t sell it.