Will Smith, former Pro Bowler and New Orleans Saints defensive end, was killed in New Orleans over the weekend. A senseless act of road rage has taken yet another life and changed many more forever. The shooter, 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, stayed on the scene and was arrested shortly after. He was charged with second-degree murder at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Central Lockup on Sunday morning.
The shooting reportedly took place near the corners of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street in the Lower Garden District. When police reached the scene at about 11:29 p.m., Smith was “in the middle of the street partially inside of his vehicle, slumped over the wheel of his car, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body. He died at the scene,” according to a statement released by the police.
According to police the shooting occurred after Hayes, who was driving a Hummer H2, ran into the back of Smith’s Mercedes Benz SUV, causing it to hit the Chevrolet Impala in front of them. Will Smith reportedly exchanged words with Hayes before Hayes took of a gun and shot at the former NFL player. Smith’s wife, Raquel, was also shot twice in the leg and was transported to the hospital after police arrived on the scene.
Upon hearing of Smith’s death Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel tweeted “A senseless and tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will Smith – his wife Racquel – his children William, Wynter and Lisa.”
General manager Mickey Loomis said, “In our community he was an important contributor to numerous charitable causes to benefit those in need. Will’s contributions to both our franchise and our community as a whole will always be remembered.”
Smith’s family posted a message on Facebook saying, “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.”
Smith was New York native and attended Proctor High School in Utica, N.Y. He played college football at Ohio State before being drafted into the NFL in 2004. He started 120 games and helped bring the city its first Super Bowl in 2009.
Just shortly before the shooting Smith had been enjoying a relaxing time at the local French Quarter Festival with his wife. He posted the following photo, now his last, on Instagram.
While this is being reported now as a case of road rage it is important to note that the Washington Post reports that Hayes was no stranger to the former Pro Bowler. In fact, Hayes, a former high school football star in the New Orleans area, worked security for the Saints while Smith played for the team.
Not only that but Hayes had reached an agreement with police in connection to his fathers death at the hands of officers in 2005. One of the officers named in the suit was photographed with Smith and his former teammate Pierre Thomas just shortly before the shooting occurred.
It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that one moment you could be riding down the street talking to your spouse and in the next, dead. It seems to be happening more and more these days. People are on the road angry, violent, hostile and mentally ill. It’s extremely disheartening to think that we live in a world where two adults can’t discuss a fender bender like adults. No one should have to die over a dent in a fender, bumper, door or anything else. If you’re lucky enough to survive a car crash you should be lucky enough to make it away from the scene as well.
Will Smith established a foundation, “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way,” in 2007, which focused on motivating, educating and providing opportunities for women and youth. Find out more about the charity HERE.
Will Smith was 34 and leaves behind a wife, Racquel and 3 children William, Wynter and Lisa.