Broncos In Mourning After Darrent Williams Shot and Killed
Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed early this morning, hours after the team was eliminated from NFL playoff contention.
Williams and two other passengers in a white Hummer limousine were shot shortly after 2 a.m. MST after another vehicle pulled up alongside it. According to the police, Williams and people with him had attended a New Year's Eve party at a nearby nightclub in downtown Denver and members of the group had been involved in a dispute there.
Two other passengers in the limousine were shot and were taken, along with Williams, to a nearby hospital, according to police. Broncos officials were notified about an hour after the shooting that Williams had died. He reportedly was shot in the neck.
"Losing a fine young man such as Darrent Williams leaves me speechless with sadness," Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan said in a written statement released by the team. "We all know that Darrent was an excellent player, but as a person, he was a first-class young man who brightened every room with his smile, attitude and personality. I cannot express how heartsick I feel at this loss. All of our players and coaches are completely shocked by this terrible tragedy, and my deepest condolences go out to the entire Williams family."
About a dozen bullet holes reportedly were visible on the driver's side of the limousine after the shooting. Police did not identify any of the other passengers in the limousine or say whether other Broncos players were among them. Denver-area media outlets reported that Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker was among the passengers but was not injured.
Approximately 20 Broncos players reportedly gathered at the team's training facility today even though they were scheduled to have the day off. The players had been scheduled to participate in the final team meeting of the season Tuesday.
"Any time you lose a guy who was close to everyone, it hurts," Broncos punter Paul Ernster said, according to the Associated Press. "From the get-go, he was like one of your good friends."
Police were searching for a white sport utility vehicle, thought to be a Tahoe or Suburban, that was believed to have been involved in the shooting. The nightclub that those in Williams's group attended was hosting a New Year's Eve party that involved players from the Broncos and the NBA's Denver Nuggets, including forward Kenyon Martin.
Martin, who was celebrating his birthday, told the Denver Post that he saw Williams at the party but he and other Nuggets players left earlier.
The Broncos were knocked from the playoffs when they lost, 26-23, in overtime to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High. Williams left the game with a shoulder injury. Williams, 24, had just completed his second NFL season. He'd been a second-round draft choice out of Oklahoma State last year, and he'd become a starter last season as a rookie. He had four interceptions this season.
Williams is at least the third NFL player to be shot since this past summer, and the first to be killed. Dallas Cowboys safety Keith Davis was shot in the head and thigh in July while driving on a highway in Dallas in what police described as a failed car-jacking attempt. San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was shot in the leg and hand in September by an off-duty police officer who had followed Foley's car on suspicion of drunk driving. Williams is the first active NFL player to die since 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed following an exhibition game in Denver in August 2005 and died of heart disease.
NFL officials called the Williams's death a tragedy and said they were lending the Broncos whatever support they could, declining further comment at least until more details of the incident became available.
"All of us are devastated by this tragedy," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a written statement. "To lose a young player, and more important, a great young man such as Darrent Williams, is incomprehensible. To lose him in such a senseless manner as this is beyond words. My deepest feelings, all my thoughts and prayers, go out to Darrent's mother and family. The entire Broncos' organization shares my grief. Darrent was a wonderful young man, and his passing is a great loss for his family, the Broncos and the city."
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