Retired NFL star Will Smith shot dead in New Orleans

Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:01pm EDT
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By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - Will Smith, a prominent member of the New Orleans Saints team that won the NFL's Super Bowl in 2010, was killed by a gunman who shot the retired football player after ramming his car near the city's famed French Quarter, police said on Sunday.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the shooting, which also wounded Smith's wife, was a case of road rage or whether there was some other motive, police said.

The suspect, Cardell Hayes, 28, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, the New Orleans Police Department said in a Twitter message.

"Our investigation continues as to the motive of this shooting and whether or not Smith and Hayes knew each other prior to this incident," Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said during a news conference on Sunday.

A man with the same name as Hayes sued the city of New Orleans over the police shooting of his mentally ill father in 2005, winning a settlement six years later.

Smith had dined on Saturday night with William Ceravolo, one of the police officers named in the federal lawsuit, police said. Whether that was a factor in the shooting was unclear.

Smith, who was one of the National Football League's top defensive ends before his retirement in 2014, was traveling in a Mercedes in the city's Lower Garden District shortly before 11:30 p.m. CDT (0430 GMT) on Saturday when his car was rear-ended by a Hummer.

Smith, 34, exchanged words with the driver of the Hummer, who took out a handgun and shot him several times, New Orleans Police Department spokesman Juan Barnes said in a statement.   Continued...

Cardell Hayes is seen in a booking photo released by the New Orleans Police Department, in New Orleans, Louisiana April 10, 2016.  REUTERS/New Orleans Police Department/Handout via Reuters