It’s a day that still haunts many. It’s like a nightmare that keeps on playing. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his child then drove off to Arrowhead Stadium and took his own life in the parking lot. It all happened in 2012 and there are still many unanswered questions as to why two young lives were lost that December day.
Who was Jovan Belcher?
Jovan Belcher grew up in Long Island, New York and was a dominant wrestler and football player at West Babylon High School in New York. He attended the University of Maine and made an instant impact on the football team. In his first season, the 6-foot-2, 228-pound linebacker racked up 58 tackles.
Belcher switched to defensive end as a junior and he led the Colonial Athletic Association with 10 sacks. After going undrafted in the 2009 NFL draft, Belcher signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs and made an appearance in every game his rookie season, making 33 tackles for the 4-12 Chiefs.
During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Belcher was a starter at linebacker for the Chiefs. In 2011, he finished with 61 tackles and started all 16 games. In 2012, he started 10 of his team’s first 11 games. He made 33 solo tackles that season.
According to several friends and teammates, Jovan Belcher was not the man who took the life of his girlfriend by shooting her 10 times and then turned the gun on himself on Dec. 1, 2012. That morning Belcher shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his young daughter. He then drove off to Arrowhead Stadium.
At the stadium, Belcher requested to meet with head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, according to Bleacher Report. Belcher then took a .40-caliber handgun, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger. According to USA Today, Belcher told Crennel and Pioli to “take care of my baby” before firing a shot into his head.
“Jovan was my friend,” said Thomas Jones, the former Chiefs running back in the Bleacher Report article. “I loved him, and I wish I could have helped him work through the demons. But what he did was a horrible, horrible act. There’s no getting around that.”
Middle linebacker Brandon Siler said, “We didn’t know the guy who made those last few decisions,” according to Bleacher Report. It was reported by ESPN in 2014 that Belcher’s brain showed signs of CTE.
Perkins’ family continues to grieve
As of 2017, Jovan Belcher’s daughter Zoey was being raised by Kasandra Perkins’ cousin Sophie. In an article in kanascity.com, Becky Gonzalez said she wanted to keep Zoey out of the spotlight, writing an email saying, “(Zoey) is a happy and active 5-year-old. She is very smart and is into all things girly. We enjoy baking together when she visits.”
Even five years after the incident, Gonzalez wrote that she sometimes expects to get a text from her daughter. “Sometimes I see something that I know she would like and for a moment I think ‘I need to get that for Kas,’ but then I remember,” she said.
“When I think of Kasi, it takes a conscious effort to separate out the trauma and horrific violence that ended her life from infiltrating the good memories,” she said. “I don’t want bitterness to take over who my ‘new normal’ is becoming.”
One result from the deaths has been the creation of KasisKids.org, a site to help children who have lost a parent or parents to domestic violence. Gonzalez said she has been “honored to help several families” through the organization.
How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.