ORONO — University of Maine Head football coach Jack Cosgrove said he learned of the tragedy involving former player Jovan Belcher almost immediately after it happened.

Police in Kansas City, Mo., say the 25-year-old Belcher shot 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins to death early Saturday and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of his coach and general manager.

Just after the shooting, Cosgrove took a call from Jack Bicknell Jr., the offensive line coach with Kansas City and a longtime friend. Bicknell told Cosgrove what happened.

“I don’t have any explanation and reason why. We just don’t know,” Cosgrove said. “You talk about what you do know. I remember his smile. He was a pretty steady guy. I remember how he handled adversity and how he handled success.”

University officials told The Associated Press that Belcher, of West Babylon, N.Y., studied at Maine from 2005 until 2008, then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations.

He was a linebacker through the 2008 football season and was named defensive player of the year during his senior year. Cosgrove called him a “tremendous student-athlete.”

Shock and pain rippled through the UMaine football community on Saturday as news of the shootings spread.

“It’s a real tragedy, a horrible tragedy,” said Cosgrove. “There are a lot of stomachs and hearts hurting right now.”

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway