Win McNamee, Getty Images
Washington fans gather at a memorial for Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who died on Tuesday.
Redskins shaken by Taylor's death

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's eyes were red. His voice cracked and was barely audible. Next to him sat coach Joe Gibbs, barely more composed.

Safety Sean Taylor's violent death had left his team in tears and a league in mourning.

"This is a terrible, terrible tragedy," Snyder said.

Taylor died early Tuesday of a gunshot wound from an apparent intruder, a tragic end for a 24-year-old whose life was transformed by the birth of a daughter 18 months ago.

"We're going to miss him," Gibbs said. "I'm not talking about as a player. I'm talking about as a person."

A day earlier, Taylor and his girlfriend were awakened by loud noises, according to family friend Richard Sharpstein, who learned the details from Taylor's girlfriend, Jackie Garcia. He said Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Neither Taylor's daughter, Jackie, nor Taylor's girlfriend were injured in the attack.

The bullet damaged the femoral artery in Taylor's leg, causing significant blood loss. Taylor never regained consciousness, Sharpstein said, and the news that he had squeezed a nurse's hand late Monday only proved to give false hope.

"Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something," Sharpstein said.

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he did not know why Taylor returned to Miami during the weekend. Taylor was not required to accompany the team to Sunday's game at Tampa Bay because of a knee injury.

Police had no description of a possible suspect and were investigating whether the shooting was connected to a break-in at Taylor's home eight days earlier, in which police said someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed.

"They're going to be looking at every angle," Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said. "They're going to be looking at every lead."

Figure skating

S.L. HOSTING JUNIORS: Nearly 400 athletes begin competing today in Salt Lake City at the U.S. Junior National Figure Skating Championships.

Competitors who placed first through fourth in their region competitions start preliminary rounds today and continue Thursday and Friday at the Salt Lake Sports Complex on Guardsman Way. The Championship rounds take place on Saturday.


SVINDAL INJURED: World Cup overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway crashed during downhill training Tuesday at Beaver Creek, Colo., and was hospitalized with a cut and bruised face and lacerated leg.

Svindal apparently lost control on the lower section of the run. He was removed from the course on a sled before being transported to Vail Valley Medical Center, organizers said.

In addition to the facial injuries, he had a 6-inch laceration on the back of his left leg. No ligament damage or broken bones were suspected.

Horse racing

JOCKEY HARTACK DIES: Bill Hartack, a Hall of Fame jockey and five-time Kentucky Derby winner, has died while on a hunting vacation in Texas. He was 74. Hartack died Monday night from natural causes due to heart disease, said Dr. Corinne Stern, the chief medical examiner in Webb County. Funeral arrangements were being made. Hartack and fellow Hall of Fame rider Eddie Arcaro are the only jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby five times.


U.S. BEATS AUSSIES: At Okayama, Japan, the United States defeated Australia in straight sets at the men's volleyball World Cup on Tuesday, improving its chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.