DENVER -- Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed
early Monday when his white stretch Hummer was sprayed by bullets
after a nightclub dispute following a New Year's Eve party.
Williams sustained a single gunshot wound to the neck, according
to Robert Whitmore, chief medical examiner in the county coroner's
Police have no motive and no indication the 24-year-old
Williams, a former Oklahoma State star, was targeted in the
drive-by shooting of the limousine. The burst of violence occurred
hours after the Broncos were eliminated from playoff contention.
"All of us are devastated by this tragedy," Broncos owner Pat
Bowlen said in a statement. "To lose a young player, and more
important, a great young man such as Darrent Williams, is
incomprehensible. To lose him in such a senseless manner as this is
A little after 2 a.m., the limousine was fired on from a vehicle
that pulled up along its side, hitting three people, police
spokesman Sonny Jackson said. As many as a dozen bullet holes were
visible on the driver's side of the vehicle. One window was blown
Police were searching for a white Suburban or Tahoe with
dark-tinted windows. Jackson wouldn't identify any of the other
passengers nor would he confirm whether any other Broncos players
were in the limo, which can hold 23 people.
However, two team sources told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli that wide receiver Javon Walker was one of the passengers.
Walker, who declined to speak with reporters when he arrived at the Broncos' facilities Monday to gather with players and coaches, appeared to have blood spattered across his shirt.
Also wounded were Brandon Flowers and Nicole Reindl. They were
taken to St. Anthony Central Hospital.
The Rocky Mountain News reported that Reindl is a 21-year-old University of Colorado student. Reindl told her father that she and a friend accepted a ride in the limo to their car.
According to the newspaper, Reindl said that Williams was riding in the back of the limo and she was seated in the left corner of the vehicle. After a few blocks in the limo, she thought someone had thrown a rock through the window. Then one of the passengers shouted that there were gunshots and many of the passengers dived for the floor.
The Rocky Mountain News also reported that Reindl has a bullet lodged in her head and doctors are still considering whether or not to remove it.
Coach Mike Shanahan said the killing left him "speechless with
"We all know that Darrent was an excellent player, but as a
person, he was a first-class young man who brightened every room
with his smile, attitude and personality," Shanahan said. "I
cannot express how heartsick I feel at this loss."
Balloons, teddy bears, flowers, signs and candles were among items that have since been left at the crime scene. Similar items have been left in front of a sign at Broncos headquarters in Englewood.
Jackson said there was a dispute at a nightclub several blocks
from the shooting where Williams and his group had attended a
party. He said the argument didn't specifically involve Williams,
according to witnesses, and the confrontation wasn't physical, just
taunts. He also said there were no shots fired from inside the
"Why this happened, we're not sure," Jackson said.
The club identified by police advertised a New Year's Eve event
celebrating the birthday of Denver Nuggets basketball player Kenyon
Martin. The Nuggets canceled practice Monday.
Mark Warkentien, Denver's vice president of basketball
operations, said police spoke with him but asked him not to
comment. "We'll respectfully honor their request," Warkentien
said. "And if the Denver police need us in any way, we'll
"I was there. He was there. I left. I saw him. That was about the extent of it," Martin told The Denver Post. "It is what it is. It's an unfortunate thing."
Martin told the newspaper that he and other Nuggets players present left the nightclub before midnight.
The club -- variously called Shelter or Safari -- is on the second
floor of a building in a once-seedy stretch south of downtown that
has a growing number of trendy bars, clubs and restaurants.
Outside, the building was unmarked except for a big sign from a
former occupant, Jonas Bros Furs. Inside, the ceiling was strung
with Christmas lights and set off with several fireplaces.
Hours after the shooting, the limo sat in a snowbank beside
Speer Boulevard, a main street through downtown. Police and
technicians worked amid snow and ice from recent storms, using
small yellow plastic markers to indicate possible evidence.
"His heart was so big, he was always giving to those who didn't
have," said Williams' mother, Rosalind Williams, who flew to
Denver from Fort Worth. "It didn't even have to be for an
agency or a charity. If he knew you didn't have, he'd hand it out
of his pocket.
"Maybe that's why he did so much, because he knew his time on
Earth was limited."
The previous active NFL player to die was Thomas Herrion of San
Francisco. He had a heart attack following an exhibition game in
Denver on Aug. 20, 2005.
Williams was a second-round draft choice in 2005 out of Oklahoma
State and teamed with Champ Bailey to give Denver one of the NFL's
top cornerback tandems. Williams finished the season with 88
tackles, 78 of them solo, and four interceptions.
His college coach, Mike Gundy, called the death a "tragic loss
for the Broncos family, Oklahoma State University and anyone who
knew Darrent Williams. It's a loss that goes far beyond the
Broncos players and coaches didn't have to report to work Monday but
about 20 of them gathered at team headquarters to console each
other, including Walker.
"Any time you lose a guy who was close to everyone, it hurts,"
punter Paul Ernster said. "From the get-go, he was like one of
your good friends."
Anthony Criss, Williams' high school football coach in Fort
Worth, Texas, said: "When he was younger, he always gravitated to
the wrong crowd. I remember he went to church and the minister was
talking to him about needing to pray and stop hanging around with
the wrong people, and he started straightening up and doing the
In December, Williams spoke of returning to his hometown this
offseason to talk to youngsters about staying out of gangs.
Williams, who has two young children in the Fort Worth area,
recently talked to Criss about establishing a free football camp
for youth players.
"He wanted to be a good parent, a good father, a good example
for his kids," Criss said. "He will be missed."
A viewing was scheduled Friday evening at the Great Commission Baptist Church in Fort Worth, with the funeral scheduled for noon local time Saturday at the same church, Griffin said. A family friend said all
services will be open to the public.
Last April, Nuggets guard Julius Hodge was shot while driving on
Interstate 76 in Denver. In 2003, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker
Joey Porter, who played at Colorado State, was shot outside a
Denver sports bar.
"Since then, I carry myself in a different type of way,"
Porter said Monday. "I respect my situation whenever I go out. I
take a whole different outlook when I go out. I make sure I feel
like I'm safe and if I'm not, I'm not going."
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.