MIAMI – A relative of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez told Local 10 News on Wednesday that he was shocked when he learned that his cousin had committed suicide in his jail cell.
Authorities said Hernandez used a bed sheet to hang himself in his jail cell just days after he was found not guilty for the 2012 murder of two men.
Authorities said the former New England Patriots tight end was being held at a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts, where he was serving a life sentence for killing his former friend, Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating his fiancee's sister.
Randy Garcia, of Miami, who is Hernandez's older cousin, said he could never believe that Hernandez was capable of crime.
"At first we were shocked, because we couldn't believe that he was capable of doing something like that, because we had never seen that side of him," Garcia said.
Garcia said he thought Friday's acquittal would be a sign of good things for his cousin.
"For us to hear the news this morning that he committed suicide, took his life, it's shocking," Garcia said.
Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, who is Hernandez's friend from the University of Florida, was also shocked by the news, posting on Instagram: "Today my heart hurts as I got the worse news I could have imagined."
Prison officials said Hernandez showed no signs that he might try to hurt himself.
"I've always known Aaron Hernandez as someone who was in complete control," Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said.
Hodgson knew Hernandez from another facility, and was also clearly shocked by his death.
Hernandez's attorneys are promising a separate investigation into his death and a state senator is pointing to a bigger problem in the state's prisons.