OCEANSIDE — Former Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker and community icon Junior Seau was found dead with a lethal gunshot wound to his chest Wednesday at his beachfront home on the 600 block of the South Strand.At this time, police are calling his death a suicide.
At about 9:30 a.m., a woman identifying herself as Seau’s girlfriend called police after returning home and finding Seau with the bullet injury, and that he was unresponsive.
“There is no indication of foul play,” said Lt. Leonard Mata, of the Oceanside Police Department at the scene.
He said Seau’s death was being investigated as a suicide.
“The investigation — a thorough investigation — will rule out any possibility of foul play before the investigation is closed,” he said.
Oceanside Police and Fire Department personnel arrived at Seau’s home and located him in a bedroom where resuscitative efforts were initiated but proven unsuccessful.
Seau was then pronounced deceased.
According to Lt. Mata, a handgun was found in the bedroom with Seau.
Hundreds of fans showed up in front of Seau’s house and were barricaded behind yellow police tape, watching the scene unfold.
Oceanside residents, Christian Howard, 21, and Sophia Young, 34, stood near the tape with a bouquet of fresh Orchids to give to Seau’s family.
Howard said he bought the flowers from a local shop and was told they were traditional to give to a family of Samoan descent; Seau was born in San Diego to parents from American Samoa.
“I came home and saw the news and wanted to pay my respects,” he said.
Young said that she regularly bikes on the path in front of Seau’s home.
“He had such an impact on Oceanside, you can’t not know his name,” she said.
She said that a high school girl told her once that she had been suffering from low self-esteem until Seau encouraged her to work out at his gym, and that eventually after working out, the girl’s self-esteem bolstered.
At just after 1:30 p.m., Seau’s mother Luisa, visibly distraught, spoke to the crowds gathered outside the home.
“Thank you everybody for coming. Thank you,” she said.
A longtime friend of Seau’s, Chaplain Shawn Mitchell, said there was no indication of a suicide note.
“At this stage we don’t know anything about a note,” he said, which had been confirmed earlier by Oceanside Police Chief Frank McCoy who was also at Seau’s residence.
Mitchell told the crowd he believes that when one claims a life that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
“If we focus that our lives are but just a moment — and this is a great encouragement to many of you — that folks, things may appear to be great on the outside but other things may be going on on the inside,” he said.
He said that Seau’s death was not only a tragedy to San Diego, but that the most difficult thing to him personally was seeing all the girls and boys that showed up (at the house.)
He said he was with Seau when the former Oceanside High School football star was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in November 2011, and that what stood out to him was that Seau led his speech with a prayer.
“So please, use this as an opportunity to reflect on Junior Seau. Remember his smile. Continue the legacy that is Junior Seau,” he said.
Seau leaves behind three children.