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Saint's Shadow

Former Easton Football Star Charged in Will Smith's Murder

Beloved former Saints captain Will Smith was shot and killed following a minor traffic accident in the Lower Garden District on Saturday (4.09) night according to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).


A little after 11p.m., Smith’s silver Mercedes G63 was rear ended on Sophie Wright Place by an orange Hummer H2 near Felicity Street stated the NOPD. The Department explained that the Mercedes then hit a Chevy Impala occupied by two friends of Smith before coming to a stop.


Authorities explained that 28-year-old Cardell “Bear” Hayes got out of the Hummer and began arguing with Smith. Hayes then allegedly shot Smith several times and shot Smith’s 33-year-old wife Racquel twice in the leg.


The NOPD and EMT’s reported arriving at the scene at 11:29p.m. and finding Smith slumped out of his SUV into the street and bleeding out. The star defensive end was declared dead on the scene. Racquel Smith was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover.


Hayes was also at the scene when officers arrived. Detectives said that after questioning at the homicide office, he was taken to Central Lock-up and booked with Second Degree Murder.


Hayes was a star football player at Warren Easton in his youth. In 2004, he was recruited by LSU and Florida. Hayes is listed on the roster of the Crescent City Kings (semi pro) in 2015. Hayes worked as an extra  The suspect’s Facebook page stated that he enrolled at UNO last year and contains multiple references to his love of pitbulls.


Hayes’ father was shot and killed by the NOPD in 2005. Hayes later filed suit against the city alleging excessive use of force and received a settlement out of court in 2011. The Advocate is reporting that Billy Ceravolo, a co-defendant in the case, ate dinner with Smith earlier in the night, but was not at the scene.


Witnesses also spotted fellow Saints standout, Pierre Thomas, at the scene of the crime. Social media posts earlier in the day show Thomas and Smith enjoying their day at French Quarter Fest and then dining on sushi in the LGD.


Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle issued a statement expressing their condolences. "Will was more than an exceptional football player he was a father, a husband, a son, a brother and teammate to so many and an inspiration to countless more. He will be greatly missed by all those he touched and impacted both on and off the football field and his legacy will continue to shine,” wrote the Bensons. “The Saints family is hurting and devastated as it has lost a member too young and too soon.” 


“Heavy Hearts w the senseless passing of our Team Capt. Will Smith. Pray for his wife's recovery and their children,” tweeted Sean Payton.


Sadly, Smith was not unaware of the city’s crime problem. In 2012, he tweeted, “Wow, 20 murders in 26 days? New Orleans.. Please Stop the Violence!”


Smith was drafted by the Saints in 2004 and played with them until tearing his ACL in 2013. He is revered by Saints fans for leading the team to glory and their only Super Bowl victory in the post-Katrina years.

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