The football community is in mourning after Terrell Roberts, a former defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals, was shot and killed this week. He was 38.
The fatal incident happened on Wednesday evening while Roberts was visiting his grandmother in Richmond, California, KPIX 5 reports.
An unidentified man entered the residence and shot Roberts in the backyard, killing the former NFL player, according to the outlet.
Richmond Police Sgt. Enrik Melgoza told KPIX 5 that officers arrived at the home shortly after the altercation occurred and discovered Roberts with a gunshot wound in his chest. The football player was then pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers later spoke with witnesses who helped them piece the tragedy together. Investigators believe that Roberts and the unidentified man got into an altercation in the garage, leading to the former NFL player getting shot.
Roberts then stumbled into the backyard and collapsed, which is where first responders located him on Wednesday, according to Melgoza.
Meanwhile, the suspect fled the scene and is still being searched for, Melgoza told CNN.
Officers described the suspect to KPIX 5 as a 20 to a 35-year-old black man who is bald with a short beard, weighs approximately 250 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black t-shirt.
At this time, it is unclear what caused the disturbance and whether Robert and the suspect knew each other.
A spokesperson at the Richmond Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
A native of the Bay Area, Roberts decided to stay on the West Coast and play college football at Oregon State University.
The 5-foot-10 athlete primarily played cornerback for the Beavers in 2001 and 2002, totaling five career interceptions, before getting drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Roberts then played defensive back for the Bengals for three seasons, from 2003 to 2005.
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In the wake of the tragedy, several of Roberts’ loved ones paid tribute to him on social media, including his former Oregon teammate Jonathan Smith and former Bengals teammates Willie Anderson and Shaun Smith.
“I’m crushed to hear the news of the passing of my teammate and friend Terrell Roberts. Prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time,” Smith, now the current OSU football coach, wrote on Twitter.
I’m crushed to hear the news of the passing of my teammate and friend Terrell Roberts. Prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time.— Jonathan Smith (@Coach_Smith) September 12, 2019
“Hadn’t heard from bro in so long . Then out the blue I get this message not knowing who it was giving me a shout out on Insta Story. Made my day conversing with em. He was so proud of his son! 13 year old Olineman. Man I hadn’t talk to bro in years,” wrote Anderson.
“Man am tired of waking up everyday to bad news another one of my former teammates what’s shot and killed rest easy Terrell Roberts one of the strongest DBs to play the game rest easy my boy,” added NFL defensive end, Smith.
Terrell Roberts @Bengals Hadn’t heard from bro in so long . Then out the blue I get this message not knowing who it was giving me a shout out on Insta Story. Made my day conversing with em. He was so proud of his son! 13 year old Olineman. Man I hadn’t talk to bro in years pic.twitter.com/XwXSkd5rDt— Willie Anderson (@BigWillie7179) September 12, 2019
Man am tired of waking up everyday to bad news another one of my former teammates what’s shot and killed rest easy Terrell Roberts one of the strongest DBs to play the game rest easy my boy pic.twitter.com/uzcDLC07LF— shaun smith (@autumnsjs90) September 12, 2019
Besides his friends from the football community, Roberts’ family also took a moment to remember the former NFL player.
Speaking to KPIX 5, the athlete’s family said he had a “heart of gold,” had no known enemies, and was never “mixed up in anything bad.”