Cops: Steve McNair Killed by Debt-Ridden Girlfriend

Cops: Steve McNair Killed by Debt-Ridden Girlfriend
Steve McNair and Sahel Kazemi
AP(2)

07/09/2009 01:45PM

Former NFL star Steve McNair died at the hands of a girlfriend who faced mounting debts that included payments on a Cadillac Escalade he'd helped her to buy, and who suspected him of seeing yet another woman who was not his wife, Nashville police say.

"We can't put ourselves in the minds of people who do these terrible, irrational acts, but there is evidence she was spinning out of control," police chief Ronal Serpas told a news conference Wednesday.

Gunshot residue tests suggest Sahel Kazemi, 20, used both hands to fire the 9mm pistol recovered at the downtown Nashville condo where both she and McNair, 36, a quarterback who took the Tennessee Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl, were found dead Saturday afternoon, police said.

McNair was seated on a sofa and likely asleep in the early morning hours of July 4 when Kazemi shot him in the left side of his head from a distance of a few feet, according to investigators. She then shot him two more times in the chest, and once more on the right side of his head from close up.

Kazemi subsequently sat next to McNair and shot herself on the right side of her head, collapsing into his lap and eventually falling to the floor atop the dropped gun, police said.

Family Unaware of Problems

"She, to us, was still a little kid and probably couldn't handle the pressure," Kazemi's nephew, Farzin Abdi, told the Tennessean. "She was only 20 years old, and he cheated on her and on his wife, too ... We never knew about financial troubles."

Kazemi, a waitress whom McNair began dating several months ago, told family and friends that McNair planned to divorce his wife for her, although no divorce record has turned up.

The murder-suicide capped 48 hours that began with Kazemi's arrest for DUI at 1:30 a.m. on July 2. McNair was with her in the Escalade at the time, and bailed her out of jail. About 5 p.m. that same day, she bought the pistol for $100 from a man to whom she had tried and failed to sell her Kia automobile. Earlier, Kazemi had learned that her roommate was moving out, which would double her rent to around $1,000. Kazemi also was liable for payments on both the Kia and the Escalade, which she co-owned with McNair.

Another Woman

Police also revealed that Kazemi recently had learned of another woman she believed to be romantically involved with McNair. On Friday, July 3, Kazemi remarked to an associate, "My life is a ball of s---, and I should just end it."

Clocking out of her job at a Dave & Buster's restaurant at 10:07 that night, Kazemi went to her apartment and then to the condo that McNair rented with a buddy. McNair arrived between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. to find her Escalade parked outside.

"Murder-suicide is clear given all of the evidence," police said in a statement.

McNair's wife, Mechelle, with whom he had four sons, has made no public comment. The co-winner of the NFL's Most Valuable Player honor in 2003 with the Tennessee team, McNair retired in 2008 after finishing his career with the Baltimore Ravens.

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