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 he cleared off the bed of a company truck and looked up at a chopper overhead. He wore a faded Patriots T-shirt. "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 Thursday morning. 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 his home. The police have ruled the death a homicide. The state police searched Hernandez's home Tuesday night.
"It has been widely reported in the media that the state police have searched the home of our client, Aaron Hernandez, as part of an ongoing investigation," Michael Fee, a lawyer for Hernandez, said in a statement. "Out of respect for that process, neither we nor Aaron will have any comment about the substance of that investigation until it has come to a conclusion."
A spokeswoman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Thursday that no arrests had been made in connection with the murder, but that she could not comment further on the case. "It's part of an active investigation," the spokeswoman, Yasmina Serdarevic, said.
Serdarevic said the police were looking for part of a side-view mirror that may be somewhere between Boston and North Attleborough. "It's a side-view mirror cover belonging to the driver's side of the motor vehicle," said Serdarevic, who did not offer details about the vehicle or why investigators were interested in it.
Four sports trophies and a photograph were perched on the porch railing of Floyd's family's home in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Lloyd played for the Boston Bandits, a semiprofessional football team.
"You couldn't ask for a better kid," Lloyd's stepfather, who did not give his name, said as he walked slowly away from the home.
"He's the victim, not the famous people," said a neighbor, Paul Sandefur, 70.
Through the afternoon, attention remained on Hernandez, who stayed inside his lawyers' offices in the Prudential Center for hours.
Karen Russell, 58, from Cambridge, Mass., waited outside the building, hoping for his autograph.
"His autograph is going to be worth money, you know what I'm saying?" she said.