Mcnair Inquiry Turns To Gun

Girlfriend Bought One Less Than 2 Days Before Their Deaths, Police Say

July 07, 2009|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,

The pistol apparently used to kill former Ravens quarterback Steve McNair and his girlfriend Saturday was bought by the 20-year-old woman less than two days earlier, Nashville, Tenn., police said Monday.

Authorities stressed that they have not concluded that Sahel Kazemi killed the retired football star and then turned the gun on herself. Police are awaiting the results of a ballistics analysis, including gunshot residue tests, and tracking down details of the pair's final hours.

"We are beginning to make some headway into trying to understand what took place," police spokesman Don Aaron said at a news conference. "Do we fully understand what took place? No."

FOR THE RECORD - Due to incomplete information from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a story Tuesday about the investigation into the death of former Ravens quarterback Steve McNair misstated federal gun law. While a licensed gun dealer cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21, private citizens can sell handguns to those 18 or older.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

An autopsy determined that McNair, 36, was shot three times from more than three feet away and once in the temple at close range, according to the Tennessean newspaper. Kazemi was shot once in the forehead, with the semiautomatic gun ending up beneath her body.

Sunday night, detectives interviewed Kazemi's ex-boyfriend, Keith Norfleet, whose stepmother said he had hoped to win her back right up to her death. Norfleet, 24, was "very cooperative" and was allowed to go home afterward, the police spokesman said.

As the investigation proceeded Monday, McNair's former teammates and coaches grappled with his death. A married father of four, he played for the Ravens in 2006 and 2007. Jeff Fisher, who coached him for 11 seasons with the Tennessee Titans, said he didn't want McNair's name tainted by the way his life ended.

"We all have the right to judge, and my hope is that Steve will be remembered ... for what he did and what he meant to this organization," Fisher said. "My hope is that we can get past the circumstances and let those go, and dwell and stay focused on the type of player and person that he was."

The still-murky circumstances of the deaths puzzled some close to the case. "Nobody thinks it makes any sense that this girl did it," said Trudy Norfleet, Keith Norfleet's stepmother. "She'd been at our house a few times for holidays, dinners. She was a very quiet girl, didn't have a whole lot to say."

Norfleet and Kazemi met in Jacksonville, Fla., when he was 20 and she was 16. Their dating spanned four rocky years, punctuated by arguments and periodic breakups. Although Norfleet knew Kazemi and McNair had been dating for several months, he and Kazemi kept seeing each other, Trudy Norfleet said.

"She's been dating both of them," Norfleet told The Baltimore Sun. Speaking of her stepson, she said: "He's totally in love with that girl. I guess he would have done anything to spend time with her. Every time they broke up he was devastated."

Keith Norfleet, who could not be reached for comment, has said in published reports that Kazemi had intended to end her relationship with McNair. Relatives of Kazemi, however, have told news outlets that she believed McNair planned to divorce his wife, Mechelle, though no divorce filings had been made.

Norfleet manages a White Castle restaurant, his stepmother said, and he could not compete with the wealth of McNair, who met Kazemi at the Dave & Buster's restaurant where she waited tables. McNair treated Kazemi to fancy trips and gave her a Cadillac Escalade for her 20th birthday in May.

Still, Norfleet and Kazemi were reportedly together on Thursday, hours after Kazemi was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. She was in the Escalade with McNair and a third person when the police pulled her over between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Aaron said.

It was Thursday evening when Kazemi bought the pistol from a person Aaron would not identify. "This was a private sale from person to person," he said, declining further details. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase a gun, said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The two bodies were found Saturday afternoon by Wayne Neeley, a longtime friend of McNair's who rented the condo with him. Police believe McNair and Kazemi died early that morning.

Neeley told authorities he found McNair on a sofa and Kazemi on the floor in the living room. Neeley said he called another close friend of McNair's, Robert Gaddy, who called police.

Aaron said Monday that police had yet to interview witnesses who may have seen McNair Friday night and early Saturday at two bars, the Blue Moon Lagoon and Loser's Bar & Grill.

A witness saw McNair arrive at the condo between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Saturday and that Kazemi's Escalade was there.

A former co-worker of Kazemi's said Monday he could not imagine her shooting McNair and then herself. Brandon Millichamp, 24, worked with her for about a year at Dave & Buster's.

"She was really bubbly, outgoing, flirty, super-sweet," Millichamp said in an interview. "I didn't like her work ethic as much, but we had a lot of fun when we worked together."

Millichamp quit in December, before Kazemi and McNair began dating. But he said the quarterback had long been a regular. A big tipper, McNair often asked to be served by Jenny, as Kazemi was known among friends.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.


Fame, money and the death of Steve McNair. Sports, Pg. 1

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.