Former NFL star Steve McNair was shot dead in his sleep last week by a 20-year-old girlfriend distraught about mounting financial problems and her belief that he was seeing someone else, police said Wednesday.
Sahel Kazemi “was spinning out of control” when she shot McNair four times as he dozed on a sofa early Saturday, then turned the gun on herself, Nashville police chief Ronal Serpas said.
Interviews with friends revealed that she was making payments on two cars, her rent was doubling and she suspected the married McNair was having a second affair with another young woman.
She told a friend on Friday that “my life is a ball of s— and I should end it,” Serpas said.
Police earlier had labeled McNair’s death a homicide, but waited for further tests and the revelations about Kazemi’s personal problems before concluding that she pulled the trigger of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol in a condominium McNair rented with a friend.
McNair’s wife, friends, ex-teammates and former coaches will celebrate him at a memorial service Thursday in Nashville with his close friend and pastor, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, delivering the eulogy. A funeral will be held Saturday in McNair’s native Mississippi.
“Steve’s body of work, his commitment to this community and all that he has contributed to so many around the world, his work ethic on the field and his incredible heart off the field I think overshadow any circumstances,” Walker said.
McNair, 36, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans most of his career, met Kazemi six months ago at a sports cafe where she was a waitress and his family often ate. She seemed happy and eager to build a life with him, but something went wrong.
“We do know that she was clearly sending a message during the last five to seven days of her life that things were going bad quickly,” Serpas said, though there was no indication she told anyone she planned to harm McNair.
Serpas said detectives learned that Kazemi recently found out about another young woman she thought McNair was romantically involved with and had even followed that woman home, though she did not confront her.