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Families grieve in wake of Belcher murder-suicide

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Families grieve in wake of Belcher murder-suicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Breaking their silence for the first time, the family of the woman shot and killed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher said Monday their ``hearts are truly broken'' and asked for privacy while they grieve the loss of two loved ones.

Belcher shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at their Kansas City home Saturday before driving to Arrowhead Stadium, where Belcher committed suicide in the practice facility's parking lot, police said. The couple had a 3-month-old daughter, Zoey.

``Our hearts are truly broken for Kasi was a beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, cousin and friend,'' the family said in an emailed statement. The family also asked that the media ``respect our privacy during this difficult time.''

``Please keep us in your hearts and prayers as well as the Belcher family,'' the statement said.

Kansas City police Sgt. Marisa Barnes said Monday that authorities hope to deliver an investigative report to prosecutors on Tuesday.

``They're moving it along just like any other case. There's a formal process it has to go through,'' she said.

Dan Ferguson, a spokesman for Jackson County, said the medical examiner's office has completed examinations on the bodies of both Belcher and Perkins. A full autopsy report would not be available for six to eight weeks, he said.

In an incident report released Monday, police said officers were called to the Kansas City home of Belcher, 25, and Perkins about 7:50 a.m. Saturday. Police found Perkins on the floor of the master bathroom. The report said she died from apparent gunshot wounds, but did not say how many times she had been shot.

Belcher then drove about five miles to Arrowhead Stadium. There, he was met by general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel, and Belcher thanked them for all they'd done for him.

The police report said that when officers arrived at Arrowhead about 8 a.m., they saw several people in the practice facility parking lot.

``As they approached, a subject later identified as Jovan Belcher, observed their presence and moved to an area behind a vehicle,'' the report said. ``From that position Belcher shot himself one time in the head.'' Belcher was taken to a hospital, where he died, the report said.

Barnes said Monday that firearms found at the couple's home were legally registered to Belcher. It is unknown how many guns were found.

``The majority of people own them, you know, especially in the places that they're legal,'' Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler said. ``People don't go out and shoot other people. Most of the time they're for self-defense or sport. Yeah, people own guns, but did you ever hear him say anything about harming someone with a gun? No.''

Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith bristled when asked about a ``gun culture'' in professional sports, and said players that carry them usually do so for protection.

``Just because we're in the NFL, that doesn't make us no different,'' he said. ``You never know when someone would try to rob you or whatever. ... I've worked hard to get where I am. I'll be damned if I'd let someone just take it away from me, period.''

Police spokesman Darin Snapp said Monday that Belcher's mother, who had been staying with the couple, was given temporary custody of the couple's daughter. But, he said, it was unclear Monday if the grandmother and baby were still in the Kansas City area or if they had returned to Belcher's home in West Babylon, N.Y. Perkins was from the Austin, Texas, area.

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and his wife, Whitney, also released a statement Monday asking for privacy. In it, the Charles' confirmed that Perkins and Whitney Charles were cousins, and that Perkins was a ``not only family, but a friend and a loving mother.''

``As my actual family and my Kansas City Chiefs family have been altered forever, we ask that you keep us and most importantly their child in prayer,'' the Charles' statement said.

Brianne York, 21, a friend of Perkins, said Sunday that Perkins met Belcher through Whitney Charles.

Belcher's relatives also provided statements Monday, as several relatives gathered outside of Belcher's boyhood home, looking somber and sad. Yamiesse Lawrence, a cousin of Belcher's, said the weekend's events were an ``inconceivable tragedy.''

``As a family, no words can express the sorrow we feel over the loss of Jovan and Kasandra,'' Lawrence read aloud.

She said the family is ``overwhelmed with both sadness and confusion,'' and extends thoughts and prayers to the Perkins family.

Belcher's niece, Quaresha Boston, said the football player ``embraced life and excelled at all he put his energy behind'' and that God alone could ``mend our hearts.''

``We loved Jovan. His kindness, humility, respect and gratitude for family and friends were steadfast,'' she said. ``... He was happy to be a new father and both he and Kasandra loved Zoey greatly.''

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Mo., and AP Writer Frank Eltman in West Babylon, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

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