Cardell Hayes has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith. Will was shot during a road rage incident on the night of April 9 in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District.
Cardell Hayes, 28, was booked at the Orleans Parish Prison on Sunday, April 10 for the murder of NFL star Will Smith, 34. Cardell was driving a Hummer H2 that collided with Will’s Mercedes around 11:30pm on April 9. The two men “exchanged words,” and Cardell allegedly fatally shot Will, as well as shot his wife, Racquel Smith, twice in her right leg; she survived and is recovering in the hospital. Will was pronounced dead at the scene.
New Orleans police arrested the then-unidentified driver of the Hummer at the scene of the crime, and recovered a handgun. Cardell’s Hummer had “careened” into the back of Will’s SVU at Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street, which caused Will to hit the Chevy in front of him in turn. The two men got into a heated exchange of words, and witnesses reported that the Hummer driver started firing his gun. Witnesses reported hearing six to eight gunshots during the road rage incident.
Cardell was booked into the Orleans Parish Prison at 8:00am Sunday morning. He has one prior arrest, on August 1, 2010 for illegal carrying of a weapon, illegal possession of codeine and possession of drug paraphernalia, among other charges. He pled guilty to a weapons charge and the possession of codeine in June 2012. After a lengthy legal battle, he served six months in prison in 2014. There is no word yet on when a trial may occur.
Will’s loss was felt deeply by his family and the NFL community, especially his fellow players. The Smith family released a statement soon after his death: “On behalf of the Smith family, we are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers. We ask that you continue to respect the family’s privacy as they grieve the loss of a devoted husband, father and friend.” A touching message from the New Orleans Saints, the team for which Will devoted nine seasons to as a defensive end, including during their explosive 2009 Super Bowl win, called his death “a senseless and tragic loss.”
HollywoodLifers, our thoughts remain with the Smith family during this difficult time.