• Will Smith shooting: 5 things we know now

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    NEW ORLEANS - Former NFL player Will Smith was gunned down in an apparent road rage incident late Saturday night.

    Smith's wife, who was in the vehicle with him, suffered two gunshot wounds to her leg, and will be fine. Authorities pronounced Smith dead at the scene.

    Here’s what we know now:

    What happened?

    Smith, 34, and his wife, Racquel Smith, 33, were shot late Saturday in New Orleans' Lower Garden District. The couple were in a Mercedes SUV when they were rear-ended by a Hummer H2.

    Smith and the driver of the Hummer “exchanged words,” according to police. Suspect Cardell Hayes, the driver of the Hummer, then pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots at Smith and his wife.

    Will Smith died at the scene. His wife was transported to a hospital with two gunshot wounds to her leg, police said. She is expected to recover.

    Will Smith the football player, not the actor

    Smith was married with three children.

    His family released a statement Sunday

    "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."

    He was a high school standout in Utica, New York, and played college football at Ohio State. He was a first-round pick by the Saints in 2004. Smith played nine seasons for the team.

    He was selected to the Pro Bowl, won the NFC championship in 2006 and notched a Super Bowl win in 2009.

    He also was secretly selected to the Saint’s Hall of Fame last month.

    He is also known for his charitable contributions. He helped provide help to women and children through his foundation “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” which he founded in 2007.

    Social media reacts to Smith’s passing

    NFL players, coaches and fans reacted to Smith's passing on social media Sunday.

    “Will was more than an exceptional football player,” New Orleans Saints owners Tom and Gayle Benson said in a statement released by the franchise Sunday morning. “He was a father, a husband, a son, a brother and a teammate to so many, and an inspiration to countless more. … The Saints family is hurting and devastated that it has lost a member too young and too soon.”

    Read more reaction here. Read Smith’s obituary here.

    Who is suspect Cardell Hayes?

    Hayes is a semi-professional football player, who owns his own towing company, according to The Times-Picayune.

    He is the sole provider for his 5-year-old son and was once considered among Louisiana's top prep football players. In 2004, >Scout.com listed him as one of the top 50 players in the state for the class of 2005. He played for Warren Easton High School.

    As recently as 2015, it appears he was still playing football for the Crescent City Kings, a local developmental team.

    In the past, Hayes had sued the city.

    Hayes' father, Anthony Hayes, was shot and killed by New Orleans police officers in 2005 after he got into an argument with an employee at a local pharmacy while armed with a pocket knife, according to The Advocate. The shooting took place just blocks from the area where Hayes allegedly shot Smith Saturday.

    Records from Orleans Parish Criminal District Court show Hayes was last arrested in 2010 on charges which included illegally carrying weapons, possession of codeine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    He pleaded guilty to illegally carrying weapons and a possession of drug paraphernalia charge in January 2014 and received a suspended six-month sentence.

    What’s next?

    Hayes was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

    At his first appearance Sunday afternoon the judge set Hayes’ bail at $1 million.

    Hayes did not enter a plea, according to ESPN.

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