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Former Saints Defensive End Will Smith Shot and Killed, Suspect Charged

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Carly Hoilman.

New Orleans Police investigate the scene of a shooting Saturday, April 9, 2016, in New Orleans. (Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (TheBlaze/AP) — Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was shot and killed Saturday after a traffic accident.

An emailed statement from New Orleans city coroner Jeffrey C. Rouse said that Smith died "of multiple gunshot wounds" after a traffic accident in the city's Lower Garden District. The former defensive end was 34 years old.

New Orleans Police investigate the scene of a shooting Saturday, April 9, 2016, in New Orleans. (Michael DeMocker/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

A tweet from the verified account of Greg Bensel, Saints vice president of communications and broadcasting, expressed condolences to Smith's family.

Smith appeared to be the victim of a road rage accident.

The New Orleans police said in a statement that Smith was driving in a Mercedes late Saturday when his vehicle was hit from behind by another vehicle, an orange Hummer H2. That caused Smith's vehicle to hit a grey Chevrolet Impala in front of him. Two acquaintances of Smith's were in the Impala but not injured.

At some point in the ensuing incident, Smith and the driver of the Hummer exchanged words, police said. The driver of the Hummer pulled out a gun and shot Smith multiple times, the police said. He also shot Smith's wife, who was traveling with him. She was taken to a local hospital.

Police said they arrived on the scene at around 11:29 p.m. and found Smith in the middle of the street, partially inside his vehicle. He died on the scene, they said.

Police said the driver of the Hummer was taken into custody to be interviewed by detectives. The weapon used in the shooting was also recovered.

New Orleans Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble on Sunday identified the suspect as Cardell Hayes, 29.

Officials announced Sunday morning that the suspect was charged with second-degree murder.

Online court records show Hayes pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count each of possessing an illegal weapon and possessing drug paraphernalia. Gamble said Sunday the investigation into Smith's murder was ongoing.

Smith, native of Queens, New York, played for Ohio State's 2002 national championship team and was a first-round draft choice by New Orleans in 2004.

He led the Saints with a career-high 13 sacks in 2009, when the club won its only Super Bowl.

He last played in an NFL regular season game in 2012, finishing his career with 67 ½ sacks.

During the 2013 preseason, a knee injury forced him onto injured reserve. He was signed in the 2014 offseason by New England but did not make the Patriots' regular season roster.

After football, he settled in Louisiana, his wife's native state. His shooting came during the weekend of the French Quarter festival, a popular festival featuring local music and food.

Smith leaves behind his wife, Racquel, and three children.

One last thing…
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