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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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The Toronto Maple Leafs are not happy with Caps' Lars Eller

The Toronto Maple Leafs are not happy with Caps' Lars Eller

On Saturday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals faced off against one of the hottest young teams in the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was viewed as a marquee matchup and it certainly lived up to its billing with both teams battling in a tight, well-played game.

In the end, Toronto walked away as the 4-2 victors in one of their better wins of the young season, but not everyone left that game impressed.

A team that already boasted super-star talent Auston Matthews added John Tavares in the offseason as a free agent giving the Maple Leafs a formidable one, two punch at center. For most of the game, the Caps were able to shut down that center tandem.

Lars Eller was asked after the game how the Caps were able to keep the Leafs’ big stars in check and he indicated that perhaps Tavares and Matthews were not as formidable a pair as they had been made out to be.

“We’re used to playing against [Sidney Crosby] and [Evgeni Malkin],” Eller said. “Everything kind of drops from there so it’s not that special. It’s a good team like a lot of others. They’ll probably be a playoff team, I think.”

Not surprisingly, that quote caught Toronto’s attention, especially forward Nazem Kadri.

Per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Kadri called Eller’s comments “bulletin board material.”

With 12 points in seven games, the Maple Leafs currently boast the top record in the league. Toronto is far from perfect, however, and their defense remains a major question mark in whether this team is a true Stanley Cup contender.

But as to whether or not they are a playoff team? That seems like a pretty safe bet.

The Caps and Maple Leafs will meet twice more this season on Jan. 23 and Feb. 21. Both games are in Toronto.  

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Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 16, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking Points

A better 3-2

For the third straight year, the Redskins are 3-2 after five games. As you know, they did not make the playoffs after either of the last two seasons. But they are in better shape in the standings now than they were in 2016 or 2017. Last year they were in second place in the division, a game and a half behind the 5-1 Eagles. They were worse off two years ago as they were in third place behind the 3-1 Eagles and the Cowboys, who were 4-1. 

It’s still very early, but it’s better to be in first place nearly a third of the way into the season than it is to be in second or third place and being in a position where you have to chase one or two teams. 

Take it away

The Redskins had three takeaways against the Panthers—the fumble recovery on the punt, Josh Norman’s interception, and the fumble forced by Norman and recovered by Mason Foster. They did not give the ball away. The last time they got at least three takeaways without giving the ball up was on Christmas Eve, 2016 in Chicago. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the last game in which Norman had an interception until Sunday. 

After being either even or in the positive in takeaway ratio in four of their five games this year, the Redskins are now tied for fourth in the NFL with a plus-four turnover margin. If they can stay on the even or plus side from week to week they will have a very good chance at being successful. 

Rushing D much improved

After finishing 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2017, the Redskins are currently sixth, giving up an average of 90.2 yards per game. The improvement has come even though they have faced premiere running backs David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Christian McCaffrey. They have allowed no more than 104 yards on the ground in any of their five games. Last year's opponents ran for 127 yards or more 10 times. Their defense will be tested on Sunday against the Cowboys, who average 147 rushing yards per game on the ground, second in the NFL. 

Looking in the mirror

When the Redskins take a look at the Cowboys they might feel like they are watching themselves. Both teams run the ball well, although Ezekiel Elliott is more consistent than Adrian Peterson. Alex Smith has better passing stats than Dak Prescott but both teams are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards. The defenses on both teams are strong. Washington is sixth in yardage allowed per game and the Cowboys are fifth. 

And both teams have started off the season alternating wins and losses. Dallas started with a loss to the Panthers then beat the Giants, lost to the Seahawks, won over the Lions, suffered an OT loss to the Texans and then thumped the Jaguars. It will be an interesting match up on Sunday.

The agenda

Today: Off day, no media availability

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Redskins @ Eagles 48

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