Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire sheltered young fan during Super Bowl parade shooting

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was involved in the fatal shooting of a man trying to rob him in 2018, was among the players consoling and sheltering fans in the aftermath of Wednesday’s tragic events

Sheila Flynn
Friday 16 February 2024 21:37 GMT
(Getty Images)

On the day that Kansas City came out to greet its Super Bowl-winning heroes, more than a few Chiefs fans witnessed first hand off-field heroism from the city’s favourite sons – amidst the most abhorrent of circumstances.

Zach Cotten, who’d only recently celebrated his 13th birthday, was caught off-guard like the rest of the crowd around Union Station when gunshots rang out Wednesday shortly after players finished their speeches.

As chaos ensued, none other than Chiefs #25, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, materialised, “sheltering” the teen and “getting [him] to safety,” Penny Hall Cotten wrote on Facebook.

“Clyde even went back to check on Zach to make sure he was doing ok,” Ms Cotten continued. “What a great human being!”

The Chiefs running back responded on Facebook, calling Zach “brave for sure.”

Chiefs #25 Clyde Edwards-Helaire responded to a Kansas City woman’s social media thanks for looking after a 13-year-old fan amidst the shooting chaos on Wednesday
Chiefs #25 Clyde Edwards-Helaire responded to a Kansas City woman’s social media thanks for looking after a 13-year-old fan amidst the shooting chaos on Wednesday (Facebook)

“Sorry the family and all of ChiefsKingdom had to experience this,” he wrote. “Just wanted to thank Zach for trusting me and knowing I’ll protect him.”

At least 22 people, mainly children, suffered gunshot wounds, and one woman was killed when shooting began during the Super Bowl parade celebrations. Three people, two of whom are juveniles, were detained after the violence, which authorities say stemmed from a “dispute between several people.”

This wasn’t the first time Edwards-Helaire encountered gun violence. In 2018, the future two-time Super Bowl champion was playing at LSU when he and a teammate were involved in the fatal shooting of a would-be armed robber in an incident the DA called “totally justifiable.”

He offered up his own suggestions on how shooting survivors can handle the trauma.

“Sidenote: Being a person who suffers from PTSD, for the kids in the KC area and parents, refrain from mentioning and bringing up traumatic experiences,” the Chiefs player wrote on Facebook.

“Always think positive and when those bad days come, (because they will) comfort and knowing somewhere is with you is the best (Medication).”

Addressing all of “the Kingdom,” the Chiefs running back continued: “Smile today because we can always change tomorrow.”

Other players, too, leapt to the aid of terrified fans in the shooting aftermath.

“The Chiefs left the parade in busses, and in shock,” NFL reporter Albert Breer wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I’m told players were UNBELIEVABLE calming panicked kids down. Blaine Gabbert, Tre (sic) Smith, Austin Reiter, Chris Oladukun all rallied.”

Smith went into more detail himself later on television – explaining how he sheltered in a closet with about 20 other people with long snapper James Winchester as they waited for clearance to head to team buses.

“This little boy was with his father,” the Chiefs guard told Good Morning America. “He was a little hysterical. He just panicked. He was scared. He doesn’t know what’s going on.

“I had the WWE belt on me the entire parade and I was thinking, what can I do to help him out? I just handed him the belt and said, ‘Hey buddy, you’re the champion. No one is gonna hurt you. No one’s gonna hurt you, man. We got your back.’

“We just started talking about wrestling: ‘Who’s your favourite wrestler? What’s your favourite wrestling match?’ Just little things like that to take his mind off it. He was looking out the window. He was seeing people reacting, trying to get out of the situation.

“I’m like, ‘Here you go, buddy, this is yours. No one is gonna hurt you. You’re here with us. You’re gonna be protected. You’re going to be A-OK. You’re going to be all right.’”

The Chiefs’ 65-year-old coach, famous for his moustache and game-changing calls, was also receiving credit for his post-shooting assistance.

“Andy Reid was trying to comfort me, which was nice,” Chiefs fan and high school sophomore Gabe Wallace told The Kansas City Star. “He was kind of hugging me, just like, ‘Are you OK, man? Are you OK? Just please breathe.’ He was being real nice and everything.”

He said Reid was also making sure to “check on other people.”

And the Chiefs’ community support and solidarity continued in the hours and days after the shooting.

“Please join me in prayer for all the victims in this heinous act,” linebacker Drue Tranquill wrote on X. “Pray that doctors & first responders would have steady hands & that all would experience full healing.”

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his wife similarly offered their prayers via social media, with Brittany Mahomes writing on Instagram that “shooting is never the answer.”

“Praying for Kansas City & America in general, this is rough,” she wrote.

Her new gal pal, Taylor Swift, girlfriend of Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, put her money where her mouth was after Wednesday’s devastating events – giving two $50,000 donations to the GoFundMe for Lisa Lopez-Galvan, the 44-year-old DJ tragically killed in the shooting.

“Sending my deepest sympathies and condolences in the wake of your devastating loss. With love, Taylor Swift,” read the messages accompanying the posts.

Patrick and Brittany Mahomes on Friday visited the still-hospitalized daughters of Ms Lopez-Galvan’s cousins; the girls, aged 8 and 10, were both shot in the legs during the spree while celebrating with relatives.

The family issued a statement on Friday thanking the quarterback and his wife, along with Mercy Children’s Hospital, “for their outpouring [of] care, love, and support,” KMBC reported.

A KC Strong fund has also been established in the wake of the shooting by the Chiefs and United Way, the latter announced in a statement.

“We woke up as champions expecting to celebrate a day in triumph,” United Way of Greater Kansas City wrote on its site. ”Instead, February 14th will be remembered for its tragedy. This moment is an opportunity to turn our collective outrage into action. The Chiefs and United Way have created a special emergency fund to support our community in its efforts to heal and become more resilient in the wake of these horrific events.”

Mahomes posted the link to the fund on X on Friday, writing: “Just like #ChiefsKingdom has always been there for me and my family, we want to be there for them. The @Chiefs have launched #KCStrong, an emergency response fund supporting victims and their families, violence prevention and mental health services, and first responders.”

He shared the link and urged others to join him in donating to the fund; United Way on Friday told FOX4 that the Chiefs, Hunt Family Foundation and the NFL were donating $200,000 to the campaign. Mahomes and his foundation, meanwhile, have already donated $50,000, the outlet reported.

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