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Published: Thursday, 7/9/2009

Police say girlfriend shot sleeping McNair, turned gun on herself


NASHVILLE - Former NFL star Steve McNair was shot dead in his sleep last week by a 20-year-old girlfriend distraught about mounting financial problems and her belief that he was seeing someone else, police said yesterday.

Sahel Kazemi "was spinning out of control" when she shot Mr. McNair four times as he dozed on a sofa early Saturday, then turned the gun on herself, police Chief Ronal Serpas said.

Interviews with friends revealed that she was making payments on two cars, her rent was doubling, and she suspected the married Mr. McNair was having a second affair with another young woman.

She told a friend on Friday that "My life is a ball of [expletive] - and I should end it," Chief Serpas said.

Police earlier had labeled Mr. McNair's death a homicide, but waited for further tests and the revelations about Ms. Kazemi's personal problems before concluding that she pulled the trigger of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol in a condominium Mr. McNair rented with a friend.

Mr. McNair, 36, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans most of his career, met Ms. Kazemi six months ago at a restaurant where she was a waitress and his family often ate.

Kazemi Kazemi
AP Enlarge

Chief Serpas said detectives learned that Ms. Kazemi recently found out about another young woman she thought Mr. McNair was romantically involved with. Chief Serpas said police believe Mr. McNair was asleep when he was killed because there were no defensive wounds. After shooting Mr. McNair in the head, Ms. Kazemi apparently shot him twice in the chest before shooting him again in the head.

Before shooting herself, she sat next to his body and "tried to stage it so she would fall in his lap," Chief Serpas said. She did, but her body slid to the floor and ended up at Mr. McNair's feet. The gun was found underneath her body.

Ms. Kazemi's family told reporters that the woman was so confident McNair was divorcing his wife of 12 years that she was preparing to sell her furniture and move in with him.

No records of divorce proceedings have surfaced. Mr. McNair and his wife had four children.

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