Monday, July 6, 2009
Relative: Woman bought gun, cops say
ESPN.com news services
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A relative of the woman found shot to death with former NFL quarterback Steve McNair said Monday that Nashville police told him she recently purchased a gun and that police believe they are almost sure she was the shooter.
Farzin Abdi is 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi's nephew, but the two were raised together like brother and sister. Abdi says he does not believe Kazemi would have killed the former Tennessee Titans quarterback and herself.
Abdi didn't know what day of the week the gun was purchased or what type of gun it was.
"There was no way she was depressed and wanting to do this," he said. "She was so happy. ... She just had it made, you know, [with] this guy taking care of everything."
Abdi said Kazemi had no motive to kill McNair. Nashville police didn't immediately have a reaction to Abdi's comments.
McNair, 36, had been dating Kazemi for several months, and Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said Sunday that a semiautomatic pistol was found under her body. She was shot in the head. He was discovered in a seated position on a sofa in the living room, shot twice in the head and two more times in the chest.
Abdi said Kazemi believed McNair was divorcing his wife and she was preparing to sell her furniture to move in with him.
A public memorial for McNair was set for Thursday at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Whites Creek, Tenn., north of Nashville, from 4 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET, according to The Tennessean.
A memorial service was scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at the church, the newspaper reported. A funeral was also expected to be scheduled for Saturday in Hattiesburg, Miss., though that service was still being finalized.
McNair, who was married with four sons, had a permit to carry a handgun in Tennessee, and he was arrested once before with a 9mm weapon although charges in the case were dropped. Police said they had not yet determined who owned the gun found at the scene.
Investigators weren't looking for a suspect but were questioning friends of the couple as well as Kazemi's ex-boyfriend. They were also waiting for results of drug and other laboratory tests before deciding whether McNair was killed in a lovers' quarrel.
"That's a very important part of the investigation as we work to ultimately classify Miss Kazemi's death," Aaron said.
The details surfacing after McNair's death stand in stark contrast to the public persona he enjoyed during his career.
McNair repeatedly played through serious injuries and pain to win, though he came up a yard short of forcing overtime on the Tennessee Titans' famous drive to lose the 2000 Super Bowl.
Generous, he frequently took part in charity work for both the Titans and later the Baltimore Ravens after a 2006 trade. McNair even helped load donated food, water and clothes onto tractor-trailers that he had arranged for Hurricane Katrina victims, and paid for three football camps for children himself this year.
McNair and Kazemi were found dead at a Nashville condominium -- which overlooks the Titans stadium -- that he rented with his friend Wayne Neeley. Police believe both died early Saturday. Neeley found the bodies hours later and called a friend, Robert Gaddy, who played at Alcorn State with McNair. Gaddy dialed 911.
"It was like something you might imagine seeing on TV or in the movies, but never imagine you would see it firsthand, to have that happen to someone you love. I am still shook up,'' Gaddy told The Tennessean.
"People have certain things that they do in life," Gaddy told The Associated Press. "We don't need to look on the situation at this time [but] on the fact we just lost a great member of society."
The quarterback's agent, Bus Cook, said he had never heard Kazemi's name until news of the shooting broke Saturday. What McNair's wife, Mechelle, knew wasn't clear Sunday.
"It doesn't make any sense. I don't know what to say," Cook said.
According to the New York Daily News, which cited unnamed sources close to McNair, his wife may have been unaware of the affair until learning of the circumstances of his death.
"She's blindsided by this," the newspaper quoted a source as saying of Mechelle McNair. "She's crushed. Her whole world is shattered."
Cook said Mechelle was "in and out of it." He said she had no comment after the police called his death a homicide.
Mechelle was "very upset, very distraught" Sunday, Cook said. She was preparing to finish the funeral arrangements Monday.
McNair split his time between Nashville and his farm in Mount Olive, Miss. He recently opened a restaurant near Tennessee State University that was aimed at serving healthy, affordable food to college students.
McNair was also seen so often at Kazemi's apartment that a neighbor thought he lived there.
McNair met Kazemi when his family ate often at the Dave & Buster's restaurant she worked at as a server, and the two began dating in a relationship that included a vacation with parasailing. Photos posted on TMZ.com showed McNair gazing and smiling at the young Kazemi.
"She pretty obviously got mixed up way over her head with folks," said Reagan Howard, a neighbor of Kazemi's.
A man who answered the door at a house in the Jacksonville, Fla., suburb of Orange Park said it was the home of Kazemi's family, but said her relatives did not want to comment.
"We don't have anything to say, please leave us alone," he said.
The victim's sister, Soheyla Kazemi, told the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville that the young woman had expected McNair to get a divorce. "She said they were planning to get married."
Kazemi often was dropped off by limousine in the early morning hours and recently went from driving a Kia to a 2007 Cadillac Escalade registered to both herself and McNair. Her niece told The Tennessean that Kazemi thought McNair was divorcing his wife of 12 years soon.
Nashville courts had no record of a McNair divorce case, but a home he owned in Nashville is on the market for $3 million.
The real estate agent declined to comment. Her online listing for property described it as a "gigantic house" of more than 14,000 square feet and photos showed a pool, home theater, baby grand piano and ornate furnishings throughout.
Fred McNair, Steve McNair's oldest brother, said some family members likely would travel to Nashville on Monday.
"It's still kind of hard to believe," Fred McNair said. "He was the greatest person in the world. He gave back to the community. He loved kids and he wanted to be a role model to kids."