BOSTON — News helicopters circled the sky above the Back Bay neighborhood Thursday afternoon after Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots tight end whose home was searched by the police this week after the death of an acquaintance, drove his white SUV here from his home in North Attleborough, Mass. Reporters followed breathlessly, evoking comparisons to the pursuit of O.J. Simpson by the police in 1994.

“Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” Michael McDowell, a laborer for a mason contractor, said as looked up at a chopper overhead. “Football player, on the run.”

Hernandez was not evading the police; he was escaping the news media, who sprang into action for a relatively mundane pursuit when he left his house. He made a brief stop at Gillette Stadium and declined to speak to reporters who surrounded him as he filled up his gas tank on the way to Boston.

The scrutiny of Hernandez began shortly after the body of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old acquaintance of his, was discovered Monday afternoon in an industrial park near Hernandez’s home. The police ruled the death a homicide. The state police searched Hernandez’s home Tuesday night.

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Reporters staked out Hernandez’s house amid media reports about Hernandez’s possible arrest, whether he was out drinking with Lloyd the night of Lloyd’s death and if the NFL star had a cleaning crew in his home before police arrived.

ABC News reported Hernandez remains a suspect, that a video surveillance system at Hernandez’s home was intentionally smashed and that his attorneys handed over a shattered cellphone to police.

According to police, Lloyd was dating the sister of the mother of Hernandez’s daughter. Lloyd’s body was discovered near a vehicle that had been rented by Hernandez.

The latest incident is not the first time Hernandez has been entangled with the law.

Gainesville police questioned him in relation to a double shooting in 2007, when Hernandez was a freshman tight end at Florida. He was not considered a suspect in that case.

In South Florida, Hernandez is being sued by a former assistant who claims he was shot in the eye by Hernandez.

The alleged shooting happened in a car that was headed from a strip club in Miami Gardens to Palm Beach County early on Feb. 13. Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call to find Alexander Bradley, 30, bleeding from a gunshot wound.

Bradley initially refused to tell investigators who shot him, though a police report noted that Bradley would be willing to prosecute his assailant. The criminal case has been classified as inactive.

The civil suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

Bradley was convicted of selling narcotics in 2006, according to state records.


Sophie Perkins of Pflugerville, Texas, was awarded custody of her 9-month-old orphaned cousin whose mother was killed by former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher late last year before he turned the gun on himself.

•The Denver Broncos signed free-agent center Dan Koppen