Former New England Patriot wide receiver Donald “Reche” Caldwell was shot and killed in Florida late Saturday evening, according to NBC affiliate WFLA in Tampa. He was 41.
Tampa police said the shooting occurred at a home around 11 p.m. Saturday evening, but have not released Caldwell’s name. Caldwell’s mother confirmed the report to WFLA.
Caldwell was shot in the leg and chest in an “ambush” at his home as he was about to go on a date with his girlfriend, according to his mother, Deborah Caldwell.
The University of Florida standout was taken in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. In 2006, he joined the Patriots and Tom Brady in New England, where he had his best statistical season of his six-year career, playing in all 16 regular season games and hauling in 61 catches for 760 yards.
Brady reacted to the news Sunday on Instagram, sharing two images to his story, one in which the quarterback is embracing Caldwell. “All love RIP,” Brady wrote over the photo with a red heart emoji.
The Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick both released statements on the team's Twitter account, expressing their condolences to Caldwell's family.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Patriot Reche Caldwell," the team posted on Twitter. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
"I am saddened to hear the news about Reche," Belichick's statement read. "He is remembered for his solid contributions to our team. My thoughts and prayers are with Reche's family."
Former New England players Benjamin Watson and Wes Welker were among those to react to the news of Caldwell's death.
"Always kept us laughing and light hearted. Always had the biggest smile. Always had the greatest stories," Watson said of Caldwell on Twitter. "Sad to hear about the passing of my teammate Reche Caldwell. May the Lord comfort his family during this time."
Welker also recalled Caldwell's smile, writing in a tweet of his own, "So sad to hear this! Reche’s smile and attitude were contagious! My thoughts and prayers go out to Bubba Caldwell and his family!"
Caldwell had a one-year stint with the Washington Redskins in 2007 and attended training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2008. He retired after seven seasons in the NFL.