New Orleans police found a 9-mm handgun inside Will Smith’s Mercedes SUV on Tuesday morning and another revolver inside the Hummer driven by the man who allegedly killed him, though neither weapon appeared to have been fired, authorities said.
After the 34-year-old former Saints player was shot to death Saturday night on Sophie Wright Place in the Lower Garden District, police said that the shooting was preceded by a three-vehicle crash. The orange Hummer driven by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes rear-ended Smith’s Mercedes SUV, knocking it forward into a Chevrolet Impala driven by acquaintances of Smith’s, police said.
Smith and Hayes “exchanged words,” then Hayes opened fire on Smith, killing him and injuring his 33-year-old wife, police have said. Hayes remained on scene, and police found a .45-caliber handgun believed to be his that matches all the shell casings found on the scene, authorities have said.
Hayes’ attorney said publicly that his client was “not the aggressor” in the incident, however, and on Tuesday, surveillance videos surfaced that appeared to show Smith’s SUV bumping into Hayes’ Hummer on Magazine Street, then driving off without stopping minutes before the collision and shooting on Sophie Wright Place.
“During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained several surveillance videos from the neighborhood that appeared to show a traffic collision involving the Mercedes G63 and the Hummer H2 take place prior to the shooting,” police said Tuesday. “Detectives are in the process of reviewing that video and obtaining additional video to use as part of the investigation.”
Another cell phone video shows a witness relating a conversation in which an unidentified man other than Hayes also claiming to have a gun prior to the shooting.
All three vehicles involved were impounded as part of the investigation. Late Tuesday afternoon, New Orleans police confirmed that they had found a gun inside Smith’s vehicle as well.
“Detectives recovered a fully-loaded revolver inside Hayes’ vehicle and a fully-loaded 9 millimeter handgun inside Smith’s vehicle,” according to a statement from the NOPD. “No bullet casings were found inside either vehicle and no ballistic evidence was recovered to show that either weapon was fired during the incident.”
Police have not yet searched the Impala, they said. They have questioned the male passenger in Hayes’ vehicle, as well as a man and a woman inside Smith’s vehicle who were not injured.
Hayes has already been charged with second-degree murder in Smith’s death, though charges relating to the shooting of Smith’s wife have not been filed “pending further investigation,” police have said.