Smith leaves behind a wife and three kids

By Adam Carlson
April 10, 2016 01:10 PM

A 34-year-old former New Orleans Saints player was shot and killed Saturday night in New Orleans in what police said was an altercation following a car crash, ending in the arrest of the other driver, PEOPLE has confirmed.

In a news release, New Orleans police confirmed the death of former Saints defensive end Will Smith in a shooting near the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street.

Sunday morning, police announced the arrest of Cardell Hayes in connection with Smith’s death. Hayes, 28, is held on one count of second-degree murder, according to jail records. It is not clear if he has entered a plea.

Hayes will also be charged with aggravated battery in the shooting of Smith’s wife, Racquel, who was riding with him in their vehicle, New Orleans Police Department spokesman Tyler Gamble tells PEOPLE. Hayes could face additional charges, Gamble says.

Police alleged in the news release that Smith and the female occupant of the car – Racquel – were shot by Hayes after he rear-ended their vehicle with his Hummer.

Cardell Hayes
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office via AP

Smith and Hayes “exchanged words” and Hayes “produced a handgun and shot Smith multiple times,” police alleged in the release. Racquel was shot once in her right leg, but the injury is considered non-life-threatening, Gamble tells PEOPLE.

Witnesses heard six to eight gunshots, according to

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Officers responded to the scene about 11:30 p.m. local time., according to the release. Gamble says police are still working to reconstruct a timeline of events, from the collision to the shooting.

The scene following a fatal shooting in New Orleans Saturday night, April 9, 2016, as paramedics transport the female victim.
Michael DeMocker/ The Times-Picayune via AP

Smith, found partially inside his vehicle, was pronounced dead on the scene while Racquel was taken to an area hospital for treatment, police said.

Hayes stayed on the scene until officers arrived, police said, and the weapon used in the shooting has been recovered. Gamble declined to release more information about what Hayes may have said to officers on the scene.

Smith played for the Saints for the duration of his career, having been drafted by the team in the first round in 2004; and was part of the team’s Super Bowl-winning 2009 season.

“We are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers,” his family said in a statement, according to WWL-TV. “We ask that you continue to respect the family’s privacy as they grieve the loss of a devoted husband, father and friend.”

In a statement Sunday morning, Saints’ general manager Mickey Loomis commemorated Smith as a “leader” and an “important contributor to numerous charitable causes.”

Many of Smith’s former teammates also said public goodbyes.

Smith is survived by his wife and three children – two sons and a daughter – according to WWL-TV.