An army of law-enforcement personnel, with two police dogs on leashes, swarmed the North Attleborough, Mass. home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on Saturday afternoon.
About a dozen officers arrived around 1:45 p.m. Eastern time, as neighbors gathered with the media across the street to watch the action. It is not known whether anyone was inside the house.
Hernandez has been in the middle of a homicide investigation since a jogger found the body of Hernandez’s friend, 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player, in an industrial park Monday, a mile from Hernandez’s home. Police said Lloyd had been shot in the head.
There was widespread media speculation, and some erroneous reports, that an arrest warrant would be, or had been, issued for Hernandez on Friday, but a clerk in the Attleboro District Court told USA TODAY Sports no arrest warrant had been issued when the court offices shut for the weekend at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The clerk said that although no warrant had been issued before the close of business, it doesn’t mean Hernandez is in the clear for the weekend. The clerk said the North Attleborough Police Department could issue the paperwork between close of business and Monday morning.
Lloyd family members said Friday the two men were together the night before Lloyd died. They said Lloyd had been dating Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister for about two years.
Police have searched in and around Hernandez’s sprawling home several times this week. Hernandez’s attorney Michael Fee has acknowledged media reports about the state police search of Hernandez’s home but said he wouldn’t have any comment on it.
ABC News has reported that persons with knowledge of the investigation have said Hernandez smashed his cell phone and destroyed surveillance videos from the cameras at his home, and his home was cleaned by a crew of maids hours after police believe Odin was killed.
The Boston Globe reported a police source who said Lloyd was killed where the body was found and that Lloyd had been shot multiple times.
Police in nearby Providence, R.I., said they had assisted Massachusetts state police and North Attleborough police with activity related to the Hernandez investigation at a strip club named Club Desire. It was unclear if they believed Lloyd and Hernandez might have been at the club in the days before Lloyd died. A reporter was escorted out of the club Friday afternoon before she could speak with employees or patrons.
The Bristol County district attorney has not released any information, other than saying Lloyd’s death was being treated as a homicide. Three search warrants were issued in the investigation earlier in the week but have not yet been made public.
Family members say Lloyd was never in trouble.
“I want the person that killed my son to be brought to justice,” said Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward. “That’s my first-born child, my only boy child, and they took him away from me. ... I wouldn’t trade him for all the money in the world. And if money could bring him back I would give this house up to bring my son back. Nothing can bring my son back.”
Family members said they had heard from Lloyd’s girlfriend but not from Hernandez since Lloyd’s death.
Hernandez was gone from his home for most of the day Friday, including when two state police officers knocked on his door. He returned home with his attorney around 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James has said the team does not anticipate commenting publicly during the police investigation. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office has been monitoring the events.
Meanwhile, CytoSport, a Benicia, Calif.-based company that makes Muscle Milk and other supplements for athletes, said Friday it was ending Hernandez’s endorsement contract, effective immediately, because of the investigation.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of Florida in 2010. Since then, he has combined with Rob Gronkowski to form one of the top tight end duos in the NFL. He missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury and had shoulder surgery in April but is expected to be ready for training camp. Last summer, the Patriots gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Hernandez said after he was drafted that he had failed a drug test while with the Gators and had been upfront with NFL teams about the issue.
Earlier this week, a man filed a lawsuit in South Florida claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club there. Alexander Bradley’s lawsuit accuses Hernandez of negligence, among other things, suggesting that the shooting may have been accidental.
Hernandez’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Contributing: Associated Press
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