July 8, 2009 / 9:14 PM / 9 years ago

Girlfriend shot ex-NFL star McNair, then self: police

NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Jealousy drove Steve McNair’s 20-year-old girlfriend to shoot the former star NFL quarterback to death while he slept and then to kill herself, the Nashville police chief said on Wednesday.

Recently retired NFL Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of the Baltimore Orioles' MLB American League baseball game against the New York Yankees in Baltimore, Maryland April 18, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Giza

Sahel Kazemi shot McNair, 36, in the head while he dozed on the couch of his condominium in the early hours of Saturday, then pumped three more bullets into his head and body, police said.

She then sat down beside him and shot herself in the head, apparently intending to fall into his lap. Her body later slid to the floor of McNair’s shared rented condominium.

“We think in the last five to seven days of her life many stresses were affecting her, with one of those doubts whether her relationship with Mr. McNair was unraveling,” Police Chief Ronal Serpas told reporters.

“We have no evidence that anyone else was involved,” he said.

Kazemi was working as a waitress in Nashville when she met McNair, who bought her a Cadillac sports utility vehicle and took her on vacations.

Several days before the slaying, Kazemi had seen someone she thought might be McNair’s new girlfriend leaving the apartment, and followed her, the chief said.

Kazemi, who came from an immigrant Iranian family, bought a gun for $100 after concluding McNair, who was married with four sons, had a new girlfriend, Serpas said.

Her relatives have said she believed McNair planned to divorce his wife and marry her, though no divorce papers were ever filed. Police said Kazemi was also worried about money.

McNair did extensive charity work in Nashville, having played most of his 13 seasons in the NFL with the hometown Tennessee Titans and its predecessor team, the Houston Oilers.

He had the reputation of being a fearless quarterback who overcame many painful injuries. He led the Titans to the Super Bowl in 2000 but lost the game to the St. Louis Rams, and was the NFL’s co-MVP in 2003.

McNair ended his career with the Baltimore Ravens and retired after the 2007 season.

A memorial service was scheduled for Thursday at Nashville’s LP Field, with burial in McNair’s native Mississippi.

Writing by Andrew Stern, editing by Philip Barbara

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