Broncos' Williams Is Killed in Denver Shooting

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 2, 2007; Page E01

Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed early yesterday, hours after the team was eliminated from NFL playoff contention.

Williams and two other passengers in a white Hummer limousine were shot shortly after 2 a.m. MST after another vehicle pulled up alongside it. According to police, Williams had attended a New Year's Eve party at a nearby nightclub in downtown Denver and members of the group he was with had been involved in a dispute there.

darrent williams - denver broncos
"We have no motive yet," said police spokesman Sonny Jackson of the shooting that left Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, above, dead. "We're hoping to talk with witnesses to find out where they were coming from, and that might give us some clues." (Jack Dempsey - AP)

The two other passengers who were shot, Brandon Flowers and Nicole Reindl, were taken, along with Williams, to a nearby hospital, according to police. Broncos officials were notified about an hour after the shooting that Williams had died. He reportedly was shot in the neck.

"Losing a fine young man such as Darrent Williams leaves me speechless with sadness," Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan said in a written statement released by the team. "We all know that Darrent was an excellent player, but as a person, he was a first-class young man who brightened every room with his smile, attitude and personality. I cannot express how heartsick I feel at this loss. All of our players and coaches are completely shocked by this terrible tragedy, and my deepest condolences go out to the entire Williams family."

About a dozen bullet holes reportedly were visible on the driver's side of the limousine after the shooting. Police did not identify any of the other passengers in the limousine or say whether other Broncos players were among them. Denver area media outlets reported that Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker was among the passengers but was not wounded.

Williams is the third NFL player to have been shot since last summer, and the first to be killed. Dallas Cowboys safety Keith Davis was shot in the head and thigh in July while driving on a highway in Dallas in what police described as a failed carjacking attempt. San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was shot three times in September by an off-duty police officer who had followed Foley's car on suspicion of drunk driving. Williams is the first active NFL player to die since 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed after an exhibition game in Denver in August 2005 and died of heart disease.

As they learned of Williams's death, approximately 20 Broncos players reportedly gathered at the team's training facility yesterday. The players, who had been scheduled to have the day off, were to have had the final team meeting of the season today.

"Any time you lose a guy who was close to everyone, it hurts," Broncos punter Paul Ernster told the Associated Press. "From the get-go, he was like one of your good friends."

Police were searching for a white sport-utility vehicle, thought to be a Chevy Tahoe or Suburban, that was believed to have been involved in the shooting. The nightclub that those in Williams's group attended was hosting a New Year's Eve party that involved players from the Broncos and the NBA's Denver Nuggets, including forward Kenyon Martin.

Martin, who was celebrating his birthday, told the Denver Post that he saw Williams at the party, but he and other Nuggets players left earlier.

The Broncos were knocked from the playoffs when they lost, 26-23, in overtime to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Invesco Field. Williams left the game with a shoulder injury. Williams, 24, had just completed his second NFL season. He'd been a second-round draft choice from Oklahoma State last year, and he'd become a starter last season as a rookie. He had four interceptions this season.

NFL officials called Williams's death a tragedy and said they were lending the Broncos whatever support they could, declining further comment until more details of the incident became available.

"All of us are devastated by this tragedy," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said in a written statement. "To lose a young player, and more important, a great young man such as Darrent Williams, is incomprehensible. To lose him in such a senseless manner as this is beyond words. My deepest feelings, all my thoughts and prayers, go out to Darrent's mother and family. The entire Broncos organization shares my grief. Darrent was a wonderful young man, and his passing is a great loss for his family, the Broncos and the city."

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