Wearing Saints black and gold, fans of Will Smith pay homage

58
Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 5:39 AM

Hundreds of fans, friends and members of the Saints team streamed into a visitation at the Saints' practice facility at a suburb of New Orleans.

Wearing Saints black and gold, fans of Will Smith pay homage

Wearing black and gold jerseys and bowing their heads, fans of slain former New Orleans Saints defensive finish Will Smith paid homage to the star on Friday, nearly a week after he was shot and killed during a traffic dispute.

Hundreds of fans, friends and members of the Saints team streamed into a visitation at the Saints' practice facility at a suburb of New Orleans.

Smith, thirty-four, was shot and killed by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes latest Saturday, police said. Smith was shot seven times in the back and once along his side, the coroner said. His wife, Racquel, was shot twice in the legs but survived. In a wheelchair and wearing sunglasses, she attended the visitation but didn't speak to reporters.

Hayes' lawyer has said his client wasn't the aggressor and that he'll be vindicated when the true legend is known. An attorney for Smith has described Hayes as "enraged" at the time of the shooting and portrayed the Smiths as the victims. Hayes was arrested and is currently being held on $1 million bond.

Smith is a much-beloved member of the Saints organization. He played for the team during its tumultuous post-Katrina season in two thousand-fifth when they traveled love nomads from stadium to stadium as the Superdome was repaired. Then in two thousand-ninth, he was defensive Capt on a team that went all the way to the Superbowl and won. He and his wife Racquel stayed in the area after he retired, and he remained active with various charities he'south supported in the community.

"I came out today because this was a grand man. And he did a lot for the city and we got to look him every Sun and see up to him," said Lance Ural, from New Orleans, who was wearing a Saints T-shirt as he walked out of the building.

"For something love this to happen it'south only right that we pay our respects," he said.

There was number ceremony or speeches as fans filed through the practice field, past photos of Smith. They stood in front of his silver casket which was covered with a bouquet of white orchids. Behind the casket were three large photos of Smith playing football. On either side, large video screens showed video snippets and photos of Smith on and off the field.

Many fans lingered in front of the casket. Others kneeled down in prayer or bowed their heads in respect for a few minutes of silence.

"It broke my heart," said Khantrell Wagner, who lives in the same New Orleans Lower Garden District neighborhood where Smith died. "It just saddens me that this could've been avoided."

Anita Harrison said she'd been attending Saints games since one thousand nine hundred sixty-nine and has been a season-ticket holder since two thousand. She admired Smith for his intensity and the way he took rookies below his wing.

"It really didn't hit me until I walked in here today," she said.

Smith was admired for his tenacity and grit on the field and for remaining in the area even after he left the team. He and his wife lived in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb, and Smith commuted to Florida, where he was getting his master'south degree in business at the Univ of Miami. He'd three children.

Many members of the Saints organization, including coach Sean Payton, owner Tom Benson, and former Saints' player Steve Gleason, attended the visitation, quietly talking and staying off to one side of the field.

Guests signed a book and prayer cards and could create donations to Smith'south "Where There'south A Will, There'south a Way Foundation."

The grieving continued this evening where — in true New Orleans fashion — a second line parade of musicians and mourners gathered in the area he was killed.

A private family burial and funeral service is scheduled for Saturday.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Hayes, John Fuller, wrote a letter to New Orleans police, demanding they recuse themselves from investigating the shooting.

In a letter delivered Friday to Mayor Mitch Landrieu and police Superintendent Michael Harrison, Fuller charged that the investigation should be handed over to state police or the FBI due "to a grave lack of faith in the honesty and competency" of the department's investigation.

In a statement, police spokesman Tyler Gamble said the homicide was getting a "fair, thorough and complete" investigation and that they'd "follow the facts wherever they take us."

READ ALSO
The Latest: Fresh quake magnitude-5.4 strikes S Japan

The Latest: Fresh quake magnitude-5.4 strikes S Japan

m. A fresh earthquake measuring 5.4 has hit southern Kyushu island on Saturday morning, following a 7.3-magnitude quake that killed at minimum six people overnight.

51
two MD firefighters critical after being shot

two MD firefighters critical after being shot

C. Prince George'south County Fire/EMS spokesman Label Brady says firefighters were responding to a welfare call at a single-family residence in Temple Hills when they were shot Friday night.

77
Berkeley provost criticized for lax discipline resigns post

Berkeley provost criticized for lax discipline resigns post

Claude Steele, a prominent social psychologist who became the top academic officer at Berkeley two years ago, said in a statement he was stepping down as provost and executive vice chancellor because his wife has serious health problems that preclude...

68
Woman in Mexican torture video in prison on weapons charge

Woman in Mexican torture video in prison on weapons charge

The executive who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak about the case said her case was ongoing and could be affected by Thursday'south release of the video.

65