Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, committed suicide today in front of his coaches and police officers outside the team's stadium, shortly after he fatally shot his girlfriend, police said.
"We heard that they had been arguing in the past [and] as far as recently, they'd been arguing before the shooting occurred this morning," Kansas City Police spokesman Darin Snapp told ABC News Radio.
The victim was identified as Kasandra Perkins, 22. Snapp said the couple had lived together and had a 3-month-old daughter.
A woman first alerted police this morning that her daughter had been shot by her boyfriend, who was a Kansas City Chiefs player, Snapp said. Police initially believed the woman was Perkins' mother, but later learned she was Belcher's mother, who lived with the couple to help care for their daughter and according to family members felt extremely close to Perkins.
It is believed Belcher drove to Arrowhead Stadium shortly after the shooting and police were called.
"When the officers arrived, when they were pulling up, they actually observed a black male who had a gun to his head and he was talking to a couple of coaches out in the parking lot," Snapp said. "As officers pulled up, and began to park, that's when they heard the gunshot and it appears the individual took his own life."
Snapp said the coaches told officers they didn't feel they were in any danger from Belcher.
"They said the player was actually thanking them for everything they'd done for him," he said. "They were just talking to him and he was thanking them and everything. That's when he walked away and shot himself."
Kansas City is scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and the league has told the Panthers to go ahead with their travel plans because the game will be played as scheduled.
In a statement posted on their website, the Chiefs said they are "cooperating with authorities in their investigation" and did not mention Belcher by name.
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound linebacker joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, and had spent all four seasons of his career with the team. He has played every in game since joining the team.
Originally from West Babylon, N.Y., where he was a three-time all-America wrestler in addition to playing on the football team, Belcher went undrafted out of the University of Maine, where he started all 45 games in which he played.
Maine Head Football Coach Jack Cosgrove described Jovan as a "tremendous student-athlete."
"His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams," Cosgrove said in a statement released by the university today. "This is an indescribably horrible tragedy. At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Jovan, Kasandra and their families."
Belcher signed with the Chiefs as a rookie free agent, started 15 of 16 games his second season and last year started all 16 games as left inside linebacker.
Belcher expressed gratitude for his NFL career in an article posted on Nov. 21 on the Chiefs' website that has since been taken down.
"First and foremost, God. Family and friends just keeping me focused, coaches and just everyone," he said.