A suspect has been arrested in the fatal shooting of former NFL Defensive Lineman Will Smith Saturday, which occurred after a road rage incident spiraled out of control, reported the Arizona Daily Star.
Initially, the incident sparked a flurry of Internet confusion about whether Will Smith the actor – not the retired NFL star – had been gunned down.The suspect is 28-year-old Cordell Hayes, who allegedly shot and killed Smith during a case of road rage in New Orleans after rear-ending the former Saints player, police said Sunday. Hayes reportedly waited at the scene for police to arrive after shooting Will Smith and the suspect was immediately arrested and charged with second-degree murder. According to police superintendent Michael Harrison, the suspect did not appear to have any prior contact with Smith before he was arrested for the road rage incident and it is unclear whether Hayes will claim self-defense.
"Harrison said the former defensive end had dined just hours before the Saturday night crash with a police officer who had once been sued by Hayes, whose father was shot and killed by police in 2005."The shooting occurred in the upscale Lower Garden District of New Orleans when Hayes' Humvee H2 rear ended Will Smith's Mercedes G63. Smith's wife Raquel was also shot in the leg during the incident. According to his Twitter account, the former Saints player and his wife had spent the day at the French Quarter Festival, enjoying the local music and food in the hours leading up to the fatal shooting. According to the AP, Saints' owner Tom Benson and family released a statement after the suspect was arrested in the death of their 2004 No. 1 draft pick, CBS reported.
"The Saints family is hurting and devastated as it has lost a member too young and too soon."The Smith family also released a statement through a PR firm. Will Smith and his wife had three children.
"On behalf of the Smith family, we are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers. We ask that you continue to respect the family's privacy as they grieve the loss of a devoted husband, father and friend."In an ironic twist, Smith graduated from Ohio State in 2005 with a degree in criminology. A native of Queens, Will Smith played for Ohio State's 2002 national championship team, and led the Saints with a career-high of 13 sacks in 2009 when the team also won its only Super Bowl. At the end of his career in New Orleans, the former Saint ranked fourth in the team's history with 67.5 sacks.
"Off the field, Smith took an active role in trying to improve children's lives, establishing a foundation called, Where There's A Will, There's A Way," wrote the Associated Press. "Its stated mission is 'to motivate, educate and provide opportunities for women and children.'"
According to police, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Smith after an argument that resulted from the traffic accident. Police are staying mum on any additional details pending the investigation and would not speculate on whether Hayes showed signs of mental illness.
[Image via Twitter]