We wish we weren’t reporting this news, but police have confirmed that former Tennessee Titan Steve McNair has been shot to death in an apartment at the Rutledge House Condominiums at 2nd Avenue South and Lea Avenue downtown. A female whose identity has not been released was also found dead at the scene, as police responded to an emergency call around 1:45pm. No other details have been confirmed at this time.
Titans owner Bud Adams, Jr. has released the following statement:
We are saddened and shocked to hear the news of Steve McNair’s passing today. He was one of the finest players to play for our organization and one of the most beloved players by our fans. He played with unquestioned heart and leadership and led us to places that we had never reached, including our only Super Bowl. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they deal with his untimely passing.
The story broke around 3pm, with the first reported news from WKRN reporter Christine Maddela on Twitter:
BREAKING NEWS: Steve Mcnair found dead, shot and killed. Stay tuned to News 2 for updates
We then followed as the story was released on WKRN online, then quickly removed. Several minutes later, WTVF reported live from the scene of the crime that a fire official and a TItans source had confirmed that the male shooting victim had been identified Steve McNair. By 3:30pm, WSMV and WZTV were also reporting live from 2nd Avenue and Lea Avenue, and reports from ESPN and CNN were starting to appear. At 4:00pm, a police official confirmed the death to media on camera, and the story then appeared at the Tennessean online.
Former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson used Twitter to dispel early rumors of a murder-suicide by McNair’s wife, and Titans running back LenDale White used his twitter account to pay his respects.
Fans are already visiting McNair’s new restaurant, Gridiron9, to pay their respects.
UPDATE [6:12pm]: CNN reports, “A law enforcement source close to the investigation said the woman is McNair’s girlfriend and that the residence is her condominium.”
UPDATE [9:45pm]: Press conference with police officials states that Steve McNair was shot multiple times, female victim Sahel Kazemi, age 20, was shot once in the head and found with a pistol near her body. No suspects are being pursued at this time and police have not ruled out a murder-suicide. McNair and Kazemi had a black Escalade registered in both of their names, and were stopped by police two nights ago with Kazemi taken into police custody after refusing a breathalyzer test. Tennessean has the most up-to-date online coverage.
UPDATE [Sunday 11am]: Robert Gaddy speaks out on discovering McNair’s body, making the 911 call, and the condo he co-rented with McNair. The McNair family issued a statement late last night:
The families of Steve McNair in Mississippi and Tennessee appreciate the concern, thoughts and prayers during this difficult time of our loss of a husband, father and son. The family requests everyone would allow them time to mourn.
Governor Phil Bredesen also issued a statement last night:
Andrea (Conte) and I were very saddened by the news of Steve McNair’s death. He has always felt like part of the Nashville family, and he will be sorely missed.
And Titans coach Jeff Fisher was finally contacted in Kuwait, where he issued a statement as well:
I am deeply saddened and at this point do not have the words to describe this loss. It is an extremely emotional moment and I don’t have the words to explain how I am feeling. I ask people to please pray for Mechelle and the entire McNair family. This is a tragic moment for his family, and it is a tragic moment for anyone who knew and loved Steve.
The Tennessean prematurely reports an “apparent murder-suicide,” but nothing has been confirmed by authorities. Autopsies are scheduled for today.
Kazemi’s ex-boyfriend, Keith Norfleet, confirms that McNair and Kazemi had been dating for a few months, and claims that Kazemi had plans to break off the relationship with McNair [Tennessean]. Some reports quote Steve McNair’s wife, Mechelle, as saying that she had not heard from him in several days [WSMV].
UPDATE [Sunday 1:15pm]: TMZ has obtained photos of Steve McNair and Sahel Kazemi on vacation together several months ago, further solidifying Norfleet’s claims that Kazemi and McNair were dating.
UPDATE [Sunday 2:00pm]: Press conference with police spokesperson Don Aaron confirms that Steve McNair’s death was a homicide, Sahel Kazemi’s death has not yet been classified. The pistol was found under Kazemi’s body and it is believed that the deaths occurred early in the morning Saturday, as much as 12 hours before the bodies were discovered. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment, and no suspects are being pursued at this time. Police also confirmed McNair and Kazemi’s dating relationship.
UPDATE [Monday 1:00pm]: Police believe that the gun used to kill both McNair and Kazemi was purchased recently by Kazemi.
Photo by keithallison.