ATTLEBORO, Mass. New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged Wednesday with murdering a friend a few days after they got into a dispute at a nightclub.
Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning, more than a week after Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd’s bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home. Soon after his arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut Hernandez from the team.
Lloyd was a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. His relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd’s life. He was shot multiple times in the back and chest, authorities said.
Hernandez was charged with murder and weapons counts.
In court, prosecutors described a killing borne out of a dispute at a Boston nightclub on the night of June 14, but they didn’t say exactly what Lloyd supposedly did to anger Hernandez.
Hernandez and two friends picked up Lloyd at home at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, Assistant District Attorney Bill McCauley said. Surveillance footage from Hernandez’s home shows him leaving earlier with a gun, McCauley said. He also told someone in the house that he was upset and couldn’t trust anyone anymore, the prosecutor said.
After picking up Lloyd, Hernandez said he was upset with Lloyd because Lloyd had spoken with people Hernandez had trouble with during their outing to the nightclub, McCauley said.
After that conversation, Lloyd texted his sister, “Did you see who I am with,” the prosecutor said. When his sister asked who, he answered at 3:22 a.m., “NFL,” then, a minute later, “Just so you know,” he said.
Between 3:23 a.m. and 3:27 a.m., people working the overnight shift at the industrial park reported hearing gunshots, McCauley said.
It’s not clear who investigators believe fired the shots.
Hernandez’s attorney, Michael Fee, asked for bail, saying Hernandez is not a flight risk, is a homeowner, and lives with his fiancee and an 8-month-old baby. He also said Hernandez had never been accused of a violent crime.
“It is at bottom a circumstantial case. It is not a strong case,” Fee said.
The judge ordered Hernandez held without bail pending further proceedings.
Hernandez was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his North Attleborough before 9 a.m. Wednesday. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to a police cruiser.
Hernandez was taken from the North Attleborough police station to his court hearing Wednesday afternoon. About two dozen supporters cheered, some yelling “We love you Aaron,” as the car carrying him left the police station.
At about 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd’s family and friends.
“Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” the Patriots said in a statement. “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, declined to comment at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
“Nothing to say, please. Thank you,” she said, before shutting the door.
State Police have searched in and around Hernandez’s sprawling home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.