Probe Begins in Taylor's Death

By Amy Shipley and Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MIAMI, Nov. 27 -- Miami-Dade police launched a wide-ranging homicide investigation Tuesday into the death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who died at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami early in the morning after being shot in the upper thigh while confronting an intruder in his home.

Police said they were trying to determine whether a burglary at Taylor's house just over a week ago was related to what they described as a possible home invasion Monday, and whether Taylor was a random victim or targeted by the shooter.

"We're going to look at everything," Miami-Dade police spokesman Robert Williams said.

Taylor, 24, died at 3:30 a.m. after undergoing seven hours of surgery Monday. An autopsy was performed Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman in the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department who declined to release further information.

Taylor's death left the Redskins and, it seemed, much of the Washington region reeling and heartsick. Devastated callers jammed sports-radio stations and hundreds of fans wrote emotional posts on Web sites that cover the team. About 200 tearful fans gathered at Redskins Park for the second candlelight vigil in two nights, and players and team officials choked back tears and struggled to remain composed.

The mood of mourning descended over the team's training center soon after owner Daniel Snyder received word of Taylor's death just after 5 a.m. Workers hung black bunting over the park's entry and painted Taylor's No. 21 in white with gold trim on the grass outside the front gate.

During a somber news conference, Snyder said the NFL would honor Taylor with a moment of silence at this week's games, and all players would wear a No. 21 sticker on their helmets. Redskins players, officials said, also would wear a special patch.

"Over the last two years, I got a chance to really see him grow as a man off the field," said Snyder, who had led a team contingent to Miami after the shooting. "Off the field, he became very, very important to me, our organization and Coach [Joe] Gibbs. . . . This is a terrible tragedy, and we're going to miss him very, very much."

Miami-Dade police found Taylor bleeding from a wound to his upper leg at his home after responding to an emergency call placed by his girlfriend at 1:47 a.m. Taylor had been awakened by noise in the living room and was shot at the entrance to his bedroom, according to the police and his attorney, Richard Sharpstein. He was airlifted to the hospital's trauma unit.

Miami-Dade police provided no information about suspects, held no formal news conference and released little information throughout the day, uncustomary in such a high-profile case. The police declined to release the incident report or 911 tapes, citing the ongoing investigation.

Jackson Memorial Hospital also declined to make its surgeons available or offer any information on Taylor, citing a request from Taylor's family.

Detectives said they would explore whether there could be a possible connection to a dispute between Taylor and several Miami men over his all-terrain vehicles in 2005 that led to criminal charges against Taylor, who received probation after entering a guilty plea but was later sued by one of the men.

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