NOPD: Fully loaded gun found in Will Smith's car

Do moments before shooting matter?
Published: Apr. 12, 2016 at 9:06 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2016 at 9:34 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - On Tuesday, NOPD detectives executed a search warrant on the the Mercedes G63 driven by former Saints player Will Smith on the night he was killed. Inside, police found a fully loaded 9-mm handgun, according to an NOPD news release.

Police said they also found a fully loaded revolver in the H2 Hummer driven by shooting suspect Cardell Hayes. No bullet casings were found inside either vehicle and no ballistic evidence was recovered to show that those weapons were fired during the incident in which Smith was shot and killed and his wife were injured.

The incident initially was reported as shots fired in the area of Felicity Street and Sophie Wright Place on Saturday around 11:29 p.m.

Based on the initial investigation, officers learned that Smith and his wife were traveling eastbound on Sophie Wright Place. As they were approaching Felicity Street, their vehicle was hit in the rear by an orange Hummer H2. The impact caused Smith to hit the rear of a gray Chevrolet Impala with two of Smith's friends inside. They were not injured in the incident.

At some point, the driver of the Hummer, later identified as Hayes, exchanged words with Smith. Police said during the argument, Hayes produced a .45 caliber handgun and opened fire, striking Smith and his wife. No one else was injured in the gunfire.

Police said Hayes was on the scene when officers arrived and identified himself as the shooter. Detectives detained and questioned him, and based on the interview and evidence, detectives arrested Hayes and booked him with second-degree murder. An additional charge for Smith's wife's injury is pending.

A male passenger was in Hayes' vehicle at the time of the incident. He cooperated with detectives and was later released after questioning. Another male and female were inside Smith's vehicle. They were not injured.

Detectives recovered a .45 caliber handgun on the scene believed to belong to in Hayes. Casings recovered from the scene matched a .45 caliber handgun. As part of the investigation, police confiscated all three vehicles in the incident.

A search of the Impala is pending.

During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained several surveillance videos from the neighborhood that appeared to show a traffic collision involving the Mercedes and the Hummer prior to the shooting. Detectives are in the process of reviewing that video and obtaining additional video.

Anyone with additional information on the investigation can contact Homicide Detective Bruce Brueggeman at (504) 658-5300.

Citizens with information that can help solve a crime are asked to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111 or toll-free 1-877-903-STOP.  You could receive a cash reward of up to $2,500 for the information leading only to the arrest, except on homicides, where Crimestoppers will pay half of the reward upon the arrest and half on the indictment of the responsible person(s).  You do not have to give your name nor testify to receive the reward but you must contact Crimestoppers directly with your information. Citizens can also submit an anonymous tip online to Crimestoppers at

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