As police continue to investigate the motive in a weekend shooting that left former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith dead, investigators have revealed that a loaded handgun was found in the football star’s Mercedes SUV, corroborating witnesses who said both men claimed to have a gun during the incident.
There is no evidence that the gun was fired, police said. They released information about the finding Tuesday after an attorney for the man accused of shooting Smith hinted that a second gun at the scene made his client fear for his life.
Police say Cardall Hayes, 28, opened fire on Smith Saturday night after a fender bender. Smith’s wife, Racquel, was also shot, sustaining non-life threatening injuries.
From the NY Daily News:
“This doesn’t surprise me,” Hayes’ lawyer John Fuller told the Daily News Tuesday after cops confirmed the 9 mm gun found in Smith’s Mercedes G63.
“There were multiple threats that were made by multiple parties not associated with Mr. Hayes. My client, his friend and bystanders at the scene believed their lives were in jeopardy,” Fuller told The News.
He declined to say whether his client ever saw the loaded gun tied to Smith.
One of the problems with the investigation, Fuller told the Daily News, is that a high-ranking member of the New Orleans Police Department previously said only one gun was confiscated from the scene. Cops did find casings that matched a .45 caliber pistol, said to be the murder weapon. In addition, a .45-caliber revolver was found in the Hummer H2 Hayes was driving.
The three guns found aren’t the only pieces of evidence clouding the investigation – surveillance video released Tuesday that appears to show Smith’s SUV rear-ending a Hummer H2 has raised questions about how the encounter began.
From Fox News:
The video shows the Hummer appearing to try and pull over to the side of the road. By contrast, the Mercedes drives into the opposite lane of traffic and keeps going. The Hummer then takes off after the Mercedes.
The footage was taken a block and a half from the intersection where police say Hayes, a former semi-pro football player, rear-ended Smith’s SUV, pushing it into a Chevrolet Impala carrying Smith’s acquaintances. Hayes then opened fire. Smith was killed by bullets to the back and torso. His wife was wounded in the leg.
Fuller maintained that his client was rear-ended moments before the fatal shooting. Hayes, he said, called 911 and began following the car that hit him. It is unclear if that car was Smith’s SUV.
In addition to the surveillance video and the guns found on the scene, a curious link between a police officer is being considered. Smith was dining with former police officer William Ceravolo at the Sake Cafe in New Orleans before the shooting. Ceravolo was named in a lawsuit filed by Hayes a decade ago in reference to the police shooting of his own father.
Police have acknowledged the link, but have not confirmed if it is related to a motive. An investigation continues.