KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It began like any other Saturday for the Kansas City Chiefs during the NFL season, their general manager and coach at work early to put final touches on this weekend's gameplan. Then they got a call to hurry to the parking lot.
The two men rushed through the glass doors of Chiefs headquarters and came face-to-face with linebacker Jovan Belcher, holding a handgun to his head.
Belcher had already killed his girlfriend and drove a short distance to Arrowhead Stadium past a security checkpoint guarding the entrance. Finding his bosses, Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel for giving him a chance in the NFL. Then he turned away and pulled the trigger.
The murder-suicide shocked a franchise that has been dealing with controversies now made trivial by comparison: eight consecutive losses, injuries too numerous to count, discontent among fans and the prospect that Pioli and Crennel could be fired at season's end.
Authorities did not release a possible motive while piecing together the case, other than to note that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing frequently. The two of them left behind a 3-month-old girl. She was being cared for by family.
The Chiefs said their game today against the Carolina Panthers would go on as scheduled, even as the team tries to come to grips with the awfulness of Belcher's death.
"I am devastated by (the) events," Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali wrote on Twitter. "I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone affected by this tragedy."
A spokesman said Crennel plans to coach today.
"I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea what it's like to see someone kill themselves," said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who spoke to Pioli shortly after the shootings. "You can take your worst nightmare and put someone you know and love in that situation, and give them a gun and stand three feet away and watch them kill themselves. That's what it's like. It's unfathomable."
Belcher, 25, was from West Babylon, N.Y., and played college football at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and hung around the past four years, eventually moving into the starting lineup. He played in all 11 games this season.
The drama unfolded early Saturday when authorities received a call from a woman who said her daughter had been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles from the Arrowhead complex. The call came from Belcher's mother, who referred to the victim as her daughter.
"She treated Kasandra like a daughter," Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp said, adding the woman had recently moved in, "probably to help out with the baby."
Police then got a phone call from the Chiefs' training facility, and Belcher's description matched the suspect description. Officers pulled into the practice facility parking lot, in time to witness the suicide.