By Tim McLaughlin
BOSTON (Reuters) – Authorities plan to arrest New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez on suspicion of interfering with a homicide investigation, a police official said on Friday.
An arrest warrant for obstruction of justice has been issued for Hernandez, 23, a tight end and rising star in the National Football League, said the police officer, who requested anonymity.
The security system at Hernandez’s home, which had video, was intentionally destroyed, ABC News reported, adding that the player’s cell phone was given to police “in pieces”. The television network, citing unnamed sources, also reported that police wanted to know why a team of house cleaners was hired on Monday to scrub Hernandez’s mansion.
Hernandez is at the center of an investigation into the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits.
Lloyd’s body was discovered on Monday in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, some 40 miles south of Boston.
Video images taken that morning appeared to show Hernandez with Lloyd on Fayston Street in Boston, the Boston Globe reported, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials including one with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Police have searched Hernandez’s house and questioned him.
Michael Fee, an attorney for Hernandez, was not immediately available for comment. The Bristol County District Attorney’s office did not return messages seeking comment.
Hernandez also has been hit with a civil lawsuit by a Connecticut man, Alexander Bradley, who claims the Patriots’ tight end shot him in the face after the two left a Miami strip club in February, causing him to lose an eye.
Police had investigated the February shooting, but abandoned the case after Bradley refused to cooperate, a Florida police official said late on Wednesday.
The Patriots had been giving Hernandez a greater role in their high-powered offense led by quarterback Tom Brady, using him in tandem with star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Hernandez caught a team-high nine passes in the AFC Championship game in January, when the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens, the eventual Super Bowl champion.
In April, footwear and apparel company Puma announced a two-year endorsement deal with Hernandez.
“Hernandez has proven to be prominent role model for kids and adult fans across the country,” Puma said in its April press release. Katie Sheptyck, a Puma spokeswoman, declined to comment on the developments surrounding Hernandez.
He played at the University of Florida before being drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft. He slipped in the draft because some teams had concerns about his off-field activities.
Last year, Hernandez agreed to an extension to his contract with the Patriots that reportedly included a $12.5 million signing bonus. Around that time, an entity called Avy Jay LLC, which lists Hernandez as the registered agent, bought the home in North Attleborough for $1.3 million, real estate records show.
(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Leslie Gevirtz)