Police investigation finds loaded gun in Will Smith's vehicle

Police found a loaded gun in the vehicle belonging to Will Smith while investigating the former Saints star's killing on Saturday, the New Orleans Police Department announced.

While executing a search warrant on Smith's Mercedes G63 on Tuesday, detectives recovered a fully-loaded 9-millimeter handgun inside the vehicle. In addition, police also found a fully-loaded revolver in the vehicle belonging to shooting suspect Cardell Hayes, who has been charged with second-degree murder. Initial ballistic tests on the weapons, however, revealed neither gun had been fired, police said. A .45 caliber handgun recovered by detectives Saturday was used in the shooting, police stated.

Based on their initial investigation, police reported that Smith was with his wife and two friends when their vehicle was rear-ended by Hayes' Hummer H2, causing Smith's SUV to collide with a Chevrolet Impala in front of it.

Hayes and Smith exchanged words after the collision, police reported, before Hayes produced a .45 caliber handgun and opened fire, hitting Smith and his wife. Smith, 34, died at the scene and his wife, Racquel, suffered a non-life threatening wound to her right leg.

Hayes told police he was the shooter when they arrived and a passenger in Hayes' vehicle cooperated with detectives at the scene.

Prior to Hayes allegedly running into the back of Smith's SUV, video surveillance footage obtained by NFL Media via WVUE-TV in New Orleans appears to show Smith's vehicle coming close to or possibly tapping the back of Hayes' Hummer after an abrupt stop. Hayes then appeared to pull over slightly as the Mercedes SUV drives past him. Hayes then follows the Mercedes. The fatal shooting occurred about 2 1/2 blocks away from the incident in the video.

Police said they are continuing to investigate the incident and are reviewing video they have obtained related to the shooting. They are also in the process of obtaining additional video related to incident. 

Hayes' preliminary hearing is set for April 28, the Orleans Parish Clerk Office confirmed to NFL Media. Police said an additional charge related to Racquel Smith's injuries is pending further investigation. Hayes remains in jail on a $1 million bond. 

Here is the release issued by the New Orleans Police Department on Tuesday:

NEW ORLEANS -- The NOPD is continuing to investigate the shooting incident that claimed the life of 34-year-old Will Smith and injured his 33-year-old wife on Saturday, April 9, 2016.

The incident initially was reported to NOPD as shots fired in the area of Felicity Street and Sophie Wright Place around 11:29 p.m. When officers arrived, they found Smith partially inside of his vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers also found Smith's wife suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the right leg. EMS transported her to the hospital where she is currently being treated for the non-life-threatening injury.

Based on the initial investigation, officers learned that Smith and his wife were traveling eastbound on Sophie Wright Place in their silver Mercedes G63. As they were approaching Felicity Street, their vehicle was hit in the rear by an orange Hummer H2. The impact caused Smith to hit the rear of a grey Chevrolet Impala. Two friends of Smith were inside of the Impala. They were not injured in the incident.

At some point, the driver of the Hummer, later identified as Cardell Hayes (8-26-1987), and Smith exchanged words. During the argument, Hayes produced a .45 caliber handgun and opened fire, striking Smith and his wife. No one else was injured in the gunfire.

Hayes was on the scene when officers arrived and identified himself as the shooter. Detectives detained and questioned Hayes. Based on the interview and evidence gathered from the scene, detectives arrested Hayes and booked him with Second Degree Murder. An additional charge for Smith's wife's injury is pending further investigation.

A male passenger was inside Hayes' vehicle at the time of the incident. He cooperated with detectives and was later released after questioning. Another male and female were inside of Smith's vehicle. They were not injured in the incident.

Detectives recovered a .45 caliber handgun on the scene believed to be in Hayes' possession during the time of the shooting. Casings recovered from the scene matched a .45 caliber handgun. As part of the investigation, police confiscated all three vehicles in the incident.

This morning (April 12), detectives executed a search warrant on the Mercedes G63 and the Hummer H2. During the search, detectives recovered a fully-loaded revolver inside Hayes' vehicle and a fully-loaded 9 millimeter handgun inside Smith's vehicle. No bullet casings were found inside either vehicle and no ballistic evidence was recovered to show that either weapon was fired during the incident. A search of the Impala is pending.

During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained several surveillance videos from the neighborhood that appeared to show a traffic collision involving the Mercedes G63 and the Hummer H2 take place prior to the shooting. Detectives are in the process of reviewing that video and obtaining additional video to use as part of the investigation.

This is an on-going criminal investigation. Following investigative protocol for all homicide investigations, detectives will continue to gather evidence and build a case to provide for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office to review and determine whether to pursue prosecution. As in every case, the department will not make further evidence learned available to the public prior to providing the findings to the DA.