NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. (TheBlaze/AP) — State police returned to the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on Wednesday, two days after a body was found about a mile away. What’s more, in a separate case a man is now alleging that Hernandez shot him in the face a few months ago.
Two troopers knocked on the door of Hernandez’s sprawling house in an upscale subdivision Wednesday morning, but no one answered. The night before, police spent hours there as another group of officers searched an industrial park where the body was found Monday. No more details about the body have been released.
Sports Illustrated, citing an unidentified source, reported that Hernandez was not believed to be a suspect in what was being treated as a possible homicide. The magazine said police had spoken with Hernandez.
State police referred questions to Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter’s office, which declined to comment.
Sports Illustrated reported that the link between Hernandez and the case was a rented Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates that police had been searching for. The Associated Press could not independently confirm the report.
Later Wednesday, at least seven state troopers searched both sides of a road just off the street where Hernandez lives. The officers used thin poles to pull back plants and search through undergrowth along the road.
Watch the Boston Globe’s report on the investigation, which identifies the body as possibly a local semi-professional football player:
Hernandez is represented by the Athletes First agency, which said it has no comment “on the Aaron Hernandez situation.” His mother said by phone from Connecticut on Tuesday she had no knowledge of a case involving him.
“I am aware of the reports, but I do not anticipate that we will be commenting publicly during an ongoing police investigation,” Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.
Hernandez returned home during the early afternoon Wednesday, wearing a Patriots sweatshirt, red hat and carrying what looked like a sports drink. He did not speak to a crowd of media staked out about 100 feet away.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL.
Last Thursday, a Connecticut man, who was traveling in Florida in February of this year, filed a complaint in South Florida alleging that after an argument with Hernandez at a strip club, the football player shot him in the face.
USA Today reported the attorney for Alexander Bradley saying the complaint was withdrawn Monday for unknown reasons but that his client plans to refile it.
The complaint suing Hernandez for $100,000 states that Hernandez was holding a gun that was discharged and caused injury to Bradley who lost his right eye and had to have multiple surgeries as a result. It says Bradley’s arm and hand were injured and required screws and plates as well.
“We don’t know whether it was accidental or deliberate,” attorney David Jaroslawicz said of the gun being shot. “If we get to take Mr. Hernandez’s testimony, perhaps he will tell us he accidentally pulled the trigger or maybe he did it on purpose.”
In 38 games, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Hernandez has 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns. He missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury and had shoulder surgery in April, but is expected to be ready for training camp. The Patriots have not said which shoulder was operated on.
Last summer, the Patriots gave Hernandez a five-year contract. It was worth $40 million, according to reports, and came just months after the team locked up Gronkowski, through 2019.
“Aaron’s improved a lot,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said at the time. “He’s worked hard, he’s improved a lot in all phases of the game – the passing game, the running game, protection and his overall versatility. He’s doing a good job for us.”
Associated Press Writer Bridget Murphy contributed to this report.