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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is "very emotional" after witnessing linebacker Jovan Belcher take his own life on Saturday morning and the rest of the team is reeling from the murder of his girlfriend that preceded it, the Chiefs announced they will play their scheduled game with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Belcher shot himself in front of Pioli and Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel in the parking lot at the team's practice facility outside of Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday morning, according to police. About an hour earlier, police said, Belcher allegedly killed his girlfriend at a residence in nearby Independence, Mo. Police identified the victim as 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, the mother of Belcher's infant daughter.
The practice facility was quiet after police left around 10:30 a.m., with two security guards ensuring hordes of media stayed outside of its gates. Employees scurried in and out of the building. Kansas City mayor Sly James, whom the Chiefs had called to inform of the incident, said he spoke with Pioli. Though he declined to characterize Pioli's state of mind after Belcher thanked him and Crennel before killing himself, James said "he's very emotional about this."
"I can tell you that you have absolutely no idea of what it's like to see somebody kill themselves," James said. "If you can take your worst nightmare and then put somebody you know and love into that situation and give them a gun and stand 3 feet away from them and watch them kill themselves, that's what it's like. It's unfathomable. It's something that you would love to wash away from your mind, but you can't do it. There's nothing like it. There's nothing like it. Think about your worst nightmare and multiply by five."
Following discussions among the league office, Crennel and team captains, the Chiefs confirmed they would play Sunday's game. In a statement, the NFL said it would make available to the Chiefs "our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."
As police continued to search for the motive behind the murder, the Chiefs discussed whether to play the game or postpone it. Ultimately, they chose to soldier ahead.
[Related: Chiefs-Panthers game will go on as scheduled]
"I think that they believe there's an obligation to the people of this city and the fans of this team and the fans of the other team to proceed and go forward," James said. "Scott is extremely concerned about making sure the fans of this team are not disappointed or left out in the cold by any decision they make. He's trying to do what's right."
James lamented the losses of Belcher, a 25-year-old starter in his fourth season out of the University of Maine, and Perkins.
"I just hope people will look at the act and not try to judge the person," James said. "There are a lot of things you don't know, that people don't know.
"There are a lot of people who are hurting. There is a young baby without parents."
More Belcher coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• The NFL world reacts to the Jovan Belcher tragedy
• The Chiefs’ sad list of tragedies includes another
• Silver: NFL should cancel Chiefs-Panthers game