BRISTOL, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – In the wake of his apparent suicide, there is shock and sadness in Bristol, Connecticut, where Aaron Hernandez grew up and played high school football.

Bristol resident Mark Crooks first met Hernandez in a summer football league in town. “I don’t know what he was going through,” he said. “I can just imagine with everything, the stress, the media, his personal life, his family… That’s a lot to take on for one man.”

Holding back tears, Crooks said he always found Hernandez to be a good guy. “From what I’ve seen, he always was a good person to the community, to Bristol.”

Brandon Campbell of Southington says he knew Hernandez, and faced him on the football field. “I was pretty shocked. I would never think he would have committed suicide,” Campbell said. “But serving life in prison, everyday waking up [with] all that guilt and shame.  I heard he found God, so that’s good.”

Not all residents were as surprised by what happened to Hernandez. “Jim” from Southington found the news of Hernandez’s death disappointing, but not unexpected. “[It’s] Too bad, he had a good career ahead of him. But you can’t go out and kill somebody and expect to get away with it.”

WBZ Sports Reporter Steve Burton believes that Hernandez was lead down a dark path that he struggled with, but was never able to break free of. “He had a lot of talent on the field, but he struggled with himself,” he explained of the former Patriots star. “He couldn’t get away from the people that were bringing him down. He tried, but he couldn’t let go of the people he grew up with.”


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