Outpouring of support for Will Smith continues Monday

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Monday, April 11, 2016

NEW ORLEANS -- The outpouring of support for former Saints defensive end Will Smith continued Monday.

Flags were flying at half-staff at the Saints' practice facility in Metairie, and a makeshift memorial had been erected at the scene where Smith was shot and killed after a traffic incident late Saturday night in New Orleans' Lower Garden District.

The love also continued to flow on social media. One of Smith's former teammates, linebacker Scott Shanle, wrote a long, personal letter to Smith to express his love for him and say all the things that he wished he had said when Smith was still alive. He also talked about their shared appreciation for Popeyes apple pies.

That letter, in turn, touched Saints coach Sean Payton, who responded to Shanle and told him the letter made him smile and feel honored to have coached them.

Among the many other Twitter and Instagram tributes that have come from inside and outside the sports world, Saints running back Mark Ingram changed his Twitter photo to a fleur-de-lis with a black No. 91 ribbon wrapped around it, in honor of Smith.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees told The MMQB.com in a telephone interview Sunday night that Smith was "a Saint through and through."

"We'll all gather back in New Orleans 10 years after winning the Super Bowl, 20 years, 50 years, to celebrate what a great thing it was for our team and for our city.

"And we'll be together, but something will be missing. No Will," he told the website.

Smith, 34, was shot after exchanging words with the driver of a Hummer H2 that rear-ended his Mercedes G63 SUV, causing him to strike another vehicle containing acquaintances of Smith's, police said.

Smith was shot multiple times in the back and torso, and his wife, Racquel, 33, was shot once in the right leg, according to police. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, while his wife was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison.A source said she was in stable condition after surgery Sunday.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Harrison visited Racquel Smith in the hospital, Harrison told reporters on Monday.

Police said the driver of the Hummer, Cardell Hayes, 28, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. The handgun used in the shooting has been recovered, according to police.

Hayes did not enter a plea during an initial court appearance Sunday, and bond was set at $1 million. Prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to bring the second-degree murder charge against Hayes. Conviction on that charge would bring an automatic life sentence.

On Monday, Hayes' attorney said there is reason to believe a second gun was on the scene Saturday. The attorney, John Fuller, didn't specify whether he believes the gun was in Smith's possession.

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