Speculation Grows Over Motive In Shooting Of NFL Star


Former NFL star Will Smith, who played nine seasons with the New Orleans Saints, was fatally wounded in a shooting April 9.

Smith, 34, was shot multiple times by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes after Hayes rammed Smith’s car and the pair became involved in an argument, according to media reports.

Questions have been asked about whether Hayes had a motive after it emerged that Smith had been dining with Billy Ceravolo, a police officer sued by Hayes. Hayes successfully won the suit against the New Orleans Police Department in 2011 following the shooting death of his father by six officers, one of whom was Ceravolo.

However, Ceravolo confirmed April 10 he was not at the scene of the shooting. He said he had eaten dinner with Smith and New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas earlier in the evening, WWL reported.

“The male victim and the driver of the Hummer exchanged words at which time the driver of the hummer produced a handgun and shot the male victim multiple times,” a police statement describing the incident read, according to NBC.

Smith’s wife, Racquel, was injured in the shooting. Smith died at the scene.

A statement released by the Smith family described the former Saints defensive end as a “devoted husband, father and friend.”

The Saints also expressed their sorrow in a statement.

“Our entire organization is deeply saddened and our condolences go out to Will’s wife, Racquel, their children and their entire family,” a statement from the organization said.

“Will’s contribution to both our franchise and our community as a whole will always be remembered,” it added.

Hayes was charged with second degree murder April 10, but his attorney alleges he was not the aggressor.

“I talked to several witnesses today,” John Fuller said, according to NBC. “The story that’s real is different than what’s [being] reported.”

Fuller said there had been a second accident leading up to the shooting, and alleged Hayes called the police before the shooting occurred.

“He is completely competent and completely aware of what he did,” Fuller added.

Hayes’ bond has been set at $1 million.

Sources: NBC News, NBC News (2), WWL/ Photo credit: New Orleans Police/The Advocate

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