A player for the Denver Broncos National Football League team was shot dead early Monday as he rode in a stretch Hummer limousine in Denver, the team and police announced.
"Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed early Monday morning," the team said in a statement.
Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said that there was "some type of disagreement" at a nightclub and Williams, 24, left the party with his friends.
Shortly afterward, a white sport-utility vehicle pulled alongside the limo. Shots were fired and Williams and two friends, a man and a woman, were hit, Jackson said.
Televised images showed Williams' white stretch limousine riddled with bullet holes.
"All three were taken to the hospital. Mr Williams was taken to Denver Health Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a little after 2:30 this morning," Jackson said.
Police are still looking for the SUV.
According to local media, the wounds of the other victims were not considered life threatening.
Williams's coach, Mike Shanahan, and Broncos president Pat Bowlen voiced shock and regret at the death, which came just hours after the team lost out on an NFL playoff berth when they finished the season with a loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
"All of us are devastated by this tragedy," Bowlen said. "To lose a young player, and more important, a great young man such as Darrent Williams, is incomprehensible. To lose him in such a senseless manner as this is beyond words.
"My deepest feelings, all my thoughts and prayers, go out to Darrent's mother and family."
Shanahan, too, paid tribute to Williams' character, as well as his on-field abilities.
"Losing a fine young man such as Darrent Williams leaves me speechless with sadness," Shanahan said. "We all know that Darrent was an excellent player, but as a person, he was a first class young man who brightened every room with his smile, attitude and personality. I cannot express how heartsick I feel at this loss."
A second-round NFL draft selection in 2005, Williams had 88 tackles and four interceptions this season for Denver.
He made three tackles and returned two punts for 50 yards against the 49ers on Sunday before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.