Police: McNair killed by girlfriend in murder-suicide

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was killed in a murder-suicide.

In a press conference held Wednesday afternoon, Metro police said the former NFL star’s 20-year-old girlfriend, distraught about financial problems and her belief that he was seeing someone else, shot McNair four times and then turned the gun on herself.

Steve McNair
Steve McNair

“After nearly four days of intensive investigation that includes lab test results and other sorts of investigatory methods the police department has concluded that Steve McNair was murdered by Sahel Kazemi and that in turn Sahel Kazemi killed herself with a single gunshot wound to the head,” Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said.

Serpas said McNair, 36, was seated on the couch and most likely asleep when Kazemi shot him.

“Because there was not any evidence of a struggle or defensive wounds to McNair, his physical position on the sofa, the trajectory of the bullets, and the wound pattern, we still believe it was likely that Kazemi shot Mr. McNair and he didn’t know,” Serpas continued.

He said she first shot him in the right temple, shot him twice in the chest and then shot him a fourth time in the left temple.

Serpas said Kazemi then positioned herself on the couch next to McNair and shot herself once in the right temple.

He said all five shell casings recovered from the condo match the 9mm gun Kazemi purchased two days prior to their deaths as do the bullets that killed the two.

The gun was purchased by Kazemi for $100 in the parking lot outside the Dave and Buster’s where she worked in the Opry Mills Mall.

Sahel Kazemi
The gun was purchased by Kazemi for $100 in the parking lot outside the Dave and Buster’s where she worked in the Opry Mills Mall.

A trace of gunshot residue was found on Kazemi’s left hand although Serpas said it was not enough for a conclusive result.

There was no gunshot residue on McNair’s hands.

Chief Serpas said while authorities may never know a motive, investigators have learned in the last five to seven days of her life, Kazemi had become very distraught.

“On two occasions told friends and associates that her life was all messed up and that she was going to end it all,” he said.

She had mounting debts, was struggling to make payments on two vehicles and her roommate was planning to move out, which would have doubled her rent.

Police also have reason to believe Kazemi thought McNair was involved with another woman.

Kazemi clocked out at Dave and Buster’s shortly after 10 p.m. Friday night when she is believed to have gone to her Hermitage apartment where her home computer showed activity until about 11 p.m.

At some point, she went to McNair’s condo off Second Avenue South.

McNair arrived between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. and according to the person who dropped him off, Kazemi’s car was already parked outside.

The shootings occurred sometime in the morning hours Saturday.  The bodies were discovered shortly before 1 p.m. that afternoon.

In regards to the lapse of time between when the bodies were discovered and when authorities were called, police said they believe statements made by Wayne Neeley, McNair’s friend and co-renter of the condo, to be truthful.

Neeley arrived at the condo around but did not instantly realize McNair and Kazemi were dead.

Steven McNair scene
McNair and Kazemi’s condo on Lea Street near Second Avenue in downtown Nashville.

Shocked and overwhelm by what he saw, Neeley called McNair’s friend, Robert Gaddy, at 12:51 p.m.

Gaddy arrived at the condo at 1:35 p.m. and placed the call to 911.

While the apparent 44 minute delay is “unusual”, police said Wednesday it is not unheard of and does not impact the conclusion of murder-suicide.

He said there is no evidence the bodies were moved or evidence at the crime scene was tampered with.

McNair was married and had four sons.

His wife, Mechelle, has not spoken publicly since her husband’s murder but has been described as being very upset and distraught.

Mike Mu, who has worked with McNair’s charitable foundation for years, said Wednesday McNair’s wife of 12 years knew nothing about Kazemi before Saturday.

He said she “didn’t know who this girl is.”

Kazemi’s family has said Kazemi was so confident McNair was divorcing his wife she was preparing to sell her furniture and move in with him.

News 2 found her furniture for sale on CraigsList.com Wednesday.  The ad was posted on July 2, 2009, two days before their deaths.

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