Former New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, 34, was killed in New Orleans' Lower Garden District last night after a traffic accident escalated into a shouting match-turned-shooting last night, according to ESPN. Smith's wife Raquel, 34, was in the vehicle when the incident happened, was shot in the leg, and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Smith and his wife were on their way back from dinner with other former Saints player Pierre Thomas at about 11:30pm when a Hummer H2 rear-ended Smith's Mercedes-Benz SUV, causing Smith's vehicle to hit another car driven by one of Smith's friends, New Orleans Police Department spokesman Juan Barnes said. The driver of the H2, now identified as 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, and Smith exchanged words before Hayes pulled out a gun and shot Smith multiple times. Smith was pronounced dead on the scene.
New Orleans crime rate dipped overall last year, according to Louisiana Weekly, but the homicide rate rose 14 percent from 2014.
Players and coach Saints coach Sean Payton expressed their grief on Twitter in the early hours this morning:
Can't stop crying.... I miss you brother...
— Bobby McCray (@bobbymccray) April 10, 2016
Were praying for the Smith family. I'm hurt to hear about this news. This man had a beautiful family. His life taken away for nothing
— Jermon Bushrod (@j_bushrod7475) April 10, 2016
Smith's family, which includes his children William, Wynter and Lisa, issued a statement this morning:
"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."