Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24.
Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor’s father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.
“His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.”
Taylor died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday, Sharpstein said.
Two carloads of mourners, including the athlete’s father, arrived at the house Tuesday morning. They remained inside and did not speak to reporters. A single bouquet of flowers was left by a palm tree just outside a front gate. Beside the mailbox, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor’s shooting.
Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand.
“Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,” Sharpstein said.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at the University of Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging the key femoral artery and causing significant blood loss.
“According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder,” Miami-Dade County police said in a statement. “We do not have a subject description at this time.”
But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor’s girlfriend called 911.
Sharpstein said Taylor’s girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor’s 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor’s girlfriend were injured.
Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary.
The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor’s home, according to police.
“They’re really sifting through that incident and today’s incident,” Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, “to see if there’s any correlation.”