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Police say McNair's death was a murder-suicide

They say the former NFL star was shot in his sleep by his distraught girlfriend, who then shot herself.

July 09, 2009|Associated Press

NASHVILLE — 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.

Sahel Kazemi "was spinning out of control" when she shot McNair four times as he dozed on a sofa early 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 that "My life is a ball of . . . 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 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol in a condominium McNair rented with a friend.

McNair, 36, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans most of his career, met Kazemi six months ago at a sports cafe where she was a waitress and his family often ate. She seemed happy and eager to build a life with him, but something went wrong.

"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 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 under her.

Mike Mu, who's worked with McNair's charitable association for years, said Wednesday that McNair's wife, Mechelle, "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 Cadillac Escalade 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 told an officer "she was not drunk, she was high." She was charged with DUI. McNair was with her but not charged. He later made her bail.

A memorial service for McNair is set for tonight in Nashville, with the funeral Saturday in his native Mississippi.

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