Slaying of former Saints player resonates in city he loved

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2012, file photo, New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith appears before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Smith was fatally shot after a traffic accident in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
Bill Kostroun/AP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) People across Louisiana are trying to process the news that former Saints defensive end Will Smith was fatally shot in the back Saturday night in what police called a deadly act of road rage.

Smith arrived in New Orleans in 2004 as a No. 1 draft pick and played with such passion and power that he quickly became a defensive captain. Off the field, the 34-year-old won hearts in his adopted city.

Police say former semi-pro football player Cardell Hayes rear-ended Smith's Mercedes G63 with his Humvee H2 before he opened fire.

A defense attorney for Hayes, John Fuller, says there's more to the story. He says Hayes himself had been rear-ended moments earlier by a hit-and-run driver, and called 911 to describe the car he was following before he ran into Smith's Mercedes.