HARTFORD -- Many in Connecticut woke up Wednesday morning to the news that former New England Patriots star and Bristol native Aaron Hernandez was found dead hanging in his cell.
Reaction to this startling news, coming only days after Hernandez was acquitted in a 2012 double slaying prosecutors said was fueled by his anger over a drink spilled at a nightclub. Bristol residents weighed their thoughts on the death of Hernandez.
Jannell Commeau, who said she went to school with Hernandez, said, "Everybody knew who he was in high school. And if you were from Bristol, you knew who he was. It was like this wasn't real. And then I went home and turned on the news and it was real."
Commeau also added, "Nobody thinks he really did it. I don't think he really did it. I don't think he would've killed himself. You just do not do that when you just got found innocent. You don't do that."
"Everybody was talking about it because nobody believed it," said Jessie Martin, server at Riverside Restaurant. "My heart was, it hurt inside, you know, because I said, oh my God he died. I feel very sad for that family that he died. Their whole family's been coming to Riverside Restaurant since they were little boys. I was thinking about his mom and his family, how they must feel. They must be so hurt. To me, he was always a good person."
John Burke, who said he grew up with Hernandez's parents, said, "His mom, Terry, and I grew up in the neighborhood as childhood friends. I know his dad was very proud of him with his athletic skills growing up.I can't even imagine what she’s [Terry's] going through, to lose Dennis [her husband] a few years back and then her son. My family and I are gonna be praying for his family."
Comments were also made on the FOX61 Facebook page.
It was "only a matter of time before reality set in that he once had absolutely everything in life... and threw it all away in order to maintain his gang-banger "cred". Once he realized all that urban street life crap is plastic and fake, reality was too much pain to bear. Sad, and tragic," FOX61 viewer Austin Passamonte said.
"Some of your comments on here are astounding!! Regardless of how you feel about him! This is someone's son! Someone's brother.. he is someone's loved one and his loved ones are hurting right now! Please have the common decency to not make nasty remarks about a dead man!! His family could very easily see this!!!" said FOX61 viewer Nicole Mechelle.
"Totally something a 'not guilty' person would do," FOX61 viewer Dave Ferraro said. "Oh well. He just saved Massachusetts taxpayers millions of dollars."
"What he did was awful but he made a wrong choice Killing a person, we all make mistakes. He will be judged by god. Stop hating," said viewer Kama Kama.
"Coward. He allowed his ego to take him to dark places. Then when he had to suffer the consequences, he took the easy way out. He is a coward. Good news for the taxpayers that won't have to pay for his room and board for the next 30-40-50 yrs," said viewer Linda Tompkins Boomhower.
"This whole situation is sad for his family and those close to him," said Donna DeWolfe. "Murder or suicide justice is served whether found guilty by your peers or not."
To take a look back at the life of Hernandez, click here.