As stunned family, friends and sports fans grieved the death of former San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau, autopsy results Thursday confirmed that he committed suicide.
» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter
The 43-year-old NFL great killed himself with a gunshot to the chest at his Oceanside home on Wednesday morning, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. Police said they found no suicide note, and family and friends seemed at a loss to explain what could have driven the community icon and role model to end his own life.
Emergency crews responding to a report of a possible suicide at Seau's beachfront house in the 600 block of The Strand South found him mortally wounded with a pistol by his side shortly after 9:30 a.m. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The precise time of his death was unclear, county spokeswoman Sarah Gordon said. Seau's girlfriend said she had last seen him alive less than two hours before returning from a trip to the gym to find he had shot himself, according to police.
The medical examiner is awaiting the Seau family's decision on whether to submit the athlete's brain to an examination by outside experts for evidence of repetitive trauma possibly suffered during his NFL career, according to Gordon.
Researchers have found links between multiple concussions and serious depression among football players, fueling speculation that Seau might have succumbed to despair brought about or worsened by such injuries.
Community response to Seau's death was swift, as large crowds and makeshift memorials accumulated in front of his home, his namesake restaurant in Mission Valley and the Chargers' offices in Murphy Canyon shortly after word of his death began spreading.
On Thursday, mourners and well-wishers continued to gather in front of Seau's beach house, building up a large display of signs, flowers, balloons, football jerseys and T-shirts bearing fond handwritten messages about the sports luminary.
Late Thursday morning, Tiaina Seau Sr., arrived and briefly stood in front of his late son's seaside residence, weeping and shaking his head, before getting back into his car and driving off.
In addition to his football prowess, Seau was known as a generous philanthropist, focused largely on helping vulnerable youths.
In 1992, he created the Junior Seau Foundation, an organization formed to raise money and other resources for programs that educate young people and guide them on positive life paths. The 20th-anniversary Junior Seau Celebrity Golf Classic fundraiser was held in March at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Seau, who had been a standout athlete at the University of Southern California, played 20 seasons in the National Football League, mostly for the Chargers, but also for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
Considered one of the best linebackers in the game, he was elected to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls as a member of San Diego's NFL franchise.
10News learned a public service is scheduled for May 11 at New Venture Christian Fellowship on 4000 Mystra Way in Oceanside. A private viewing will precede the public service. No set time has been announced.
Additionally, a paddle-out in remembrance of Seau is scheduled for Sunday (May 6) at 12 p.m. at the beach in front of Seau's Oceanside home.
An event to honor Seau's memory will be held May 12 at Oceanside High School. Seau graduated from the school in 1987.
Copyright Do you have more information about this story? Click here to contact usCopyright 2012 by 10News.com. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.