In this Dec. 19, 2010 file photo, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher (59) walks off the field during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis. Police say Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend early Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo., then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)
By Glenn Jordan
Former college teammates of Jovan Belcher spoke of his passion on the football field.
In relationships, that passion caused problems.
Two early-morning incidents involving a girlfriend and campus police came to light late Monday afternoon, two days after the university said a records search revealed only an episode in which Belcher accidentally locked himself out of his dormitory.
Belcher, in his fourth season with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, made national headlines Saturday morning after fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before driving to the team’s practice facility, where he used the same handgun to commit suicide in front of his coach and general manager.
“It’s just kind of hard to believe the whole situation,” said Windham native Raibonne Charles, a defensive tackle who arrived in Orono in the fall of Belcher’s junior year, 2007. “You don’t want to believe he’s gone, and you don’t want to believe he did something like that on his way out.”
Perkins, 22, and Belcher, 25, leave behind their daughter, 3-month-old Zoey.
Charles spoke by phone from San Jose, Calif., where he was to work out for an Arena Football League team. He said calls from friends and former teammates haven’t stopped since news of the tragedy broke Saturday morning.
“It’s been pretty tough,” Charles said. “He’s kind of a guy who was an inspiration to me, because he wasn’t given all the natural physical gifts … but he was able to make up for it through hard work and that’s how he made it to the NFL.”
Belcher came to Maine from West Babylon, N.Y., and graduated in three-and-a-half years with a degree in child development and family relations. One of his courses, in the fall of his junior year, was a peer education class called Male Athletes Against Violence.
“In college, he was always working, and staying focused, and staying on the right path to get where he needed to be,” Charles said. “He was a very persistent and passionate person.”
That passion led to a 2007 noise complaint of an argument between Belcher and a girlfriend – not Perkins, a cousin of the wife of Kansas City teammate Jamaal Charles – and a 2006 incident involving a bloodied Belcher, who cut his arm after punching out a window because he was upset over a girl.
Margaret Nagle, a university spokesperson, said a misspelled name (Jevon instead of Jovan) and improper birth dates during a search of campus police records on Saturday were to blame for only the lock-out incident being initially reported.
Belcher came into contact with campus police three times prior to the lockout, all between the weekend hours of 1 and 2 a.m.
During December of Belcher’s freshman year, a resident assistant in Androscoggin Hall called for assistance to a third-floor bathroom because Belcher “was ill and slow to respond to his questions,” according a report filed by officer James I. Batchelder, who described “no signs of drug or alcohol use.”
Four months later, Sgt. Scott Curtis responded to the same dormitory and found Belcher being treated by the university volunteer ambulance corps (UVAC) for a “possible severed thumb and lacerations to the wrist,” Curtis wrote.
“I was told that Belcher was upset over a girl and punched a window out,” the report continued. “There was a lot of blood outside of the west entrance and in the lobby.”
The report said Belcher was referred to Judicial Affairs for disorderly conduct and restitution for the estimated $200 in damage.
Not quite a year later, in late February of 2007, two officers responding to the second floor of Gannett Hall encountered Belcher and a girlfriend whose name was redacted from the report. They had been arguing about her failure to contact him by a predetermined time earlier that evening.
“He became worried and when she did show up he told her that he did not want to see her until the morning,” said the report. “She asked to stay with him but he said that it would be better for her to leave.”
The officers reported no indication of “the discussion being physical” or any sign of intoxication “on either party.”
They gave the woman a ride home and Belcher remained in his room. There was no further incident.
Reports of such behavior surprised South Portland police officer Rocco Navarro, a UMaine senior during Belcher’s first year on campus. They were on the punt team together, Navarro kicking and Belcher blocking for him, that fall of 2005 and were in the same weight-lifting group.
“It’s one of those things where he obviously had some demons in his closet, but nobody really knew about them,” Navarro said. “He was one of the last people I would imagine who could have done something like this.”
In Navarro’s line of work, he often encounters domestic violence. Eighty percent of the time, he said, alcohol is involved.
“That’s why it’s so baffling,” he said. “It’s not like it was a Friday or Saturday night where they went out and got liquored up. We don’t know what went down in that house. Only they do.”
Since Saturday, Navarro said he heard of the NFL hiring therapists to travel with each team and be available around the clock for anyone in need.
“It’s so unfortunate,” he said. “I just wish he had tried to get help when he knew what was going on.”
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
Friends and relatives of Jovan Belcher, the former University of Maine player and linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, grieve Saturday outside the Belcher family home in West Babylon, N.Y.