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Chiefs coach Crennel says he tried to talk player out of suicide

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel (R) and general manager Scott Pioli watch their team before the start of their NFL football game
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel (R) and general manager Scott Pioli watch their team before the start of their NFL football game

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday he tried to talk linebacker Jovan Belcher out of shooting himself outside the team's practice facility before the player committed suicide on Saturday.

Belcher shot himself in the head in a parking lot in the presence of team personnel that included Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli, police said. A few minutes earlier, he shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, to death in the couple's home, according to police.

"I was trying to get him to understand that life is not over, he still has a chance and let's get this worked out," Crennel said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Crennel said he was unaware that Belcher had killed Perkins at the time that he gave the player the advice.

"I didn't know what happened," Crennel said. "All I know is it was a player with a gun and I know that is not a good thing. I've never seen him with a gun, never, ever."

The Chiefs prohibit guns on team property, team officials said.

Crennel described Belcher as a hard-working, loyal player. "I don't know what made him snap," Crennel said. "I was surprised."

Chiefs' chairman Clark Hunt said Sunday that doctors and coaches told him they knew of no physical or emotional issues that would have signaled the Belcher shootings.

"He's not someone we've ever had an issue with, in any regard," Hunt said in comments posted on the Chiefs' website Monday. Hunt said in an interview with ABC on Sunday that Belcher had no long history of concussions.

NFL SUICIDES LINKED TO CONCUSSIONS?

The NFL has come under scrutiny in recent months over a series of player suicides that some believe are tied to repeated concussions and brain damage from playing football.

Police said in an incident report released Monday that officers found Perkins on the floor of the couple's master bedroom at 7:50 a.m. At 8 a.m., police responded to a call to the practice center near Arrowhead Stadium and saw several people in the parking lot.

"As they approached, a subject later identified as Jovan Belcher, observed their presence and moved to an area behind a vehicle," the report said. "From that position Belcher shot himself one time in the head." He died en route to the hospital, the report said.

Belcher used separate handguns to shoot his wife and himself, police Sergeant Marisa Barnes said Monday. The guns were legally registered to Belcher, Barnes said.

Relatives of Perkins expressed sorrow Monday in their first public comment on her death and Belcher's suicide.

"Our hearts are truly broken, for Kasi was a beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, cousin and friend," said the statement posted in a column on the National Football League's website. The statement went on to thank people for their support and said "our wish is for Kasi to be remembered for the love she shared with us all. Kasi will be truly missed!"

In a separate statement, Chiefs running back Jamal Charles said his wife, Whitney, is a first cousin of Perkins, 22.

"Our family has suffered a personal tragic loss," Charles said. "Kasandra was not only family, but a friend and a loving mother. As my actual family and my Kansas City Chiefs family have been altered forever, we ask that you keep us and most importantly their child in prayer."

Belcher and Perkins had a three-month old daughter, who is in temporary custody of Belcher's mother, Barnes said.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Walsh)

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