ATTLEBORO, Mass. - Police have charged ex-New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez with murder and weapons counts in connection with the slaying of a semi-pro football player whose body was found in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez's home.
Hernandez was taken from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning.
Less than two hours after his arrest, the Patriots announced they had cut him from the team.
Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits, was found slain June 17. Officials ruled the death a homicide but did not say how Lloyd died.
Lloyd's relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee, that the two men were friends and that the men were out together on the last night of Lloyd's life.
Hernandez was wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, with his arms inside the shirt and behind his back as he was led from his North Attleborough home Wednesday morning. He casually spit into some bushes on his way to a police cruiser.
Hernandez was arrested on a state police warrant at about 8:45 a.m., state police said on the agency's Twitter account. The agency said it wouldn't discuss the charge against Hernandez until the case was presented in Attleboro District Court later Wednesday.
Hernandez was taken from the North Attleborough police station to his court hearing Wednesday afternoon. About two dozen supporters cheered, some yelling "We love you Aaron," as the car carrying him left the police station.
The Associated Press emailed a message to his attorney, Michael Fee, who hasn't discussed the investigation beyond acknowledging media reports about it. A message also was left with the Bristol County district attorney's office.
At about 10:20 a.m., the Patriots announced they had released Hernandez and expressed sympathy to Lloyd's family and friends.
"Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation," the Patriots said in a statement. "We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."
Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, declined to comment at her Boston home Wednesday morning.
"Nothing to say, please. Thank you," she said, before shutting the door.
State police have searched in and around Hernandez's sprawling home in North Attleborough several times. At least three search warrants have been issued in connection with the investigation.
Reporters have been camped for days outside the home on the Rhode Island line, not far from the stadium where the Patriots play. They reported Tuesday that Hernandez got a visit from Boston defense attorney James Sultan.
Just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, a man drove up to Hernandez's house, waited at the door and left in a car with a young woman who had been in the home. They didn't comment.
The Patriots drafted Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., out of the University of Florida in 2010. Last summer, the team gave him a five-year contract worth $40 million.
Associated Press writers Bridget Murphy in Boston and Howard Ulman contributed to this story.