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Patriots' Hernandez in spotlight as murder probe continues

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (L) scores a touchdown against the New York Giants during the third quarter in the NFL Super
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (L) scores a touchdown against the New York Giants during the third quarter in the NFL Super

BOSTON (Reuters) - New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez was mobbed by reporters and trailed by a news helicopter on Thursday as investigators probed the killing of a young man found less than a mile from the star tight end's sprawling home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

The body of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits, was discovered on Monday in an industrial park in the town, which lies about 40 miles south of Boston. Police have since searched Hernandez's house and questioned him.

A spokeswoman for the Bristol County Prosecutor's Office, Yasmina Serdarevic, said on Thursday prosecutors were not prepared to discuss possible suspects. "All I can say is that this is an active homicide investigation," she said.

Hernandez has also been slapped with a civil lawsuit by a Connecticut man, Alexander Bradley, who claims the Patriots tight end shot him in the face after the two left a Miami strip club in February, causing him to lose an eye.

A Florida police official said late on Wednesday police had investigated the February shooting, but abandoned the case after Bradley refused to cooperate.

Hernandez could not be reached for comment. His agent, his attorney, and a spokesman for the Patriots all declined comment.

In a scene reminiscent of former National Football League player and actor O.J. Simpson's televised car chase two decades ago, a news helicopter tracked Hernandez for hours on Wednesday as he left his house and drove to Gillette Stadium, the Patriots' home turf.

At one point, Hernandez had to push through reporters who were shouting questions at him as he pumped gas into his white SUV at a local service station.

North Attleborough is home to many Patriots players because of its proximity to Gillette Stadium, where the NFL team plays.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Gevirtz)

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