Aaron Hernandez was taken into custody at his home outside Boston by police on Wednesday, June 26. (WHDH)
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Police have charged Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez with murder and weapons counts in connection with the slaying of a semi-pro football player whose body was found in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez's home.
The charge was revealed Wednesday in Attleboro District Court after Hernandez was arrested at his sprawling North Attleboro home. Less than two hours after his arrest, the Patriots cut Hernandez from the team.
Police had investigated the homicide of semi-pro player Odin Lloyd, who was found shot execution-style about a half-mile from Hernandez's home.
When arrested, Hernandez, wearing red shorts and sneakers, was led out from his home handcuffed, his arms inside a white V-neck white T-shirt and behind his back, and placed in the back seat of a police cruiser.
Hernandez has been at the center of a police investigation into Lloyd's death.
The 27-year-old's body was found on June 17 in an industrial park by a nighttime jogger, about a half-mile from Hernandez's home. Police ruled the death a homicide, and Lloyd's family members said Lloyd, who was shot in the head, and Hernandez were friends who had been together the previous day.
Just hours after the arrest, the New England Patriots announced in a statement that the team released Hernandez.
"A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss," the team said in a statement. "Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010, and last summer, the team gave Hernandez a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Seven officers were present for the 8:47 a.m. arrest by Massachusetts State Police and North Attleboro Police. Hernandez will be arraigned at Attleboro District Court. In an email statement, the office of Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter said he will meet with the press and issue a statement following Hernandez's arraignment.
ABC News has reported that Hernandez destroyed his cellphone and video surveillance system and had his home professionally cleaned the day Lloyd's body was found. And Massachusetts State Police have twice searched Hernandez's home, along with nearby woods and a pond.
On Saturday, police swarmed Hernandez's home with investigators and two police dogs for nearly four hours. They concentrated on the house, a large playhouse in the back yard that Hernandez uses as a doghouse, nearby woods and Hernandez's white SUV, which was parked in the driveway. Investigators left with approximately a dozen bags.
They returned to Hernandez's upscale neighborhood Monday, when two divers in scuba gear checked a nearby pond before the team scoured densely wooded areas with metal detectors. According to one member of the six-man search team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case, investigators found no evidence during the hourlong search.
With Wednesday's arrest, the center of attention has shifted from Hernandez's home, where nearly two dozen reporters have been camped out the past few days, to the court house, a two-story brick building near downtown Attleborough. Unaware of the latest developments, a Coca-Cola delivery truck was turned away at courthouse: "Should I come back another day?" Nearby, two helicopters circled the police station.
Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, declined comment to The Associated Press at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
"Nothing to say, please. Thank you," she said, before shutting the door.
Last week another man from Connecticut filed a civil lawsuit in Florida saying Hernandez shot him in the face in February, causing him to lose an eye; he is seeking damages in excess of $100,000.
In the complaint filed by attorneys for 30-year-old Alexander S. Bradley, Hernandez is accused of shooting Bradley in the face while the two were in a vehicle early Feb. 13 after a night of partying at a strip club in Miami.
According to the complaint and a police report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Bradley lost his right eye and has lost much of the use of his right arm. He said he needed further surgeries and experienced pain and difficulty eating and was requesting damages in excess of $100,000.
Bradley refused to cooperate with the police investigation, giving only a vague description of "black and Hispanic" men that shot him. When he wouldn't speak any further with investigators, the case was deemed inactive, and it will not be reopened without Bradley's cooperation
Hernandez's relationship with Bradley is unclear, though both are from Connecticut, with their hometowns located about 20 miles apart. Bradley was convicted of selling drugs in 2006 and spent 18 months in jail.
Bradley's lawsuit was initially filed four days before Lloyd's death in Massachusetts.
Lloyd's family says he and Hernandez were friends and that Lloyd's girlfriend and Hernandez's fiancee are sisters.