Reche Caldwell, who led the New England Patriots in receiving yards in 2006, was shot and killed Saturday in Tampa, Fla. David Tulis/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

TAMPA, Fla. — Former NFL receiver Reche Caldwell was shot and killed Saturday in Tampa, his mother said Sunday. Caldwell was 41.

In a news release Sunday morning, Tampa police said officers responding to a call about a shooting just before 11 p.m. found a man in his 40s with a gunshot wound in the yard of a home on the 3600 block of East Hanna Avenue. Officers rendered aid before a fire-rescue crew took the man to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police spokesman Eddy Durkin refused to identify the victim Sunday, citing the department’s interpretation of Marsy’s law, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018. The law is meant to protect crime victims, but it deprives the public of information that had long been made available in Florida under the state’s public records law.

Caldwell’s mother, Deborah, said police broke the news to her late Saturday evening.

“You get killed right here in your hometown?” Deborah Caldwell said. “You made a statement here, and y’all just took it away from us?”

“All of us are imperfect people, but he’s perfect to me. He was my hero.”

In the news release, police said the fatal shooting did not appear to be a random act, and detectives were working to develop leads.

Caldwell was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft and spent six seasons in the NFL. He appeared in 71 games with 29 starts, finishing with 152 catches for 1,851 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Playing with Tom Brady in 2006, he led the New England Patriots with 760 receiving yards on a team that reached the AFC championship game.

Caldwell starred in baseball and football at Jefferson High School. At the time, baseball coach Pop Cuesta said Caldwell was as good as any player that went through his program – a list that includes major-league stars like Tino Martinez and Fred McGriff.

“It’s a shame,” Cuesta told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. “He’s probably one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. He was a tremendous athlete. I mean, he had it all. If he had decided to go baseball, he would’ve played in the big leagues, there’s no question about it. Every year, he got better and better.”

He passed for 77 touchdowns and almost 7,000 yards as a quarterback at Jefferson. But his future was at receiver. Caldwell switched to that position during his first practice at Florida, and his 141 career catches still rank eighth in school history.

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