Pullman, Wash. — Police on Wednesday were interviewing Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s friends and people who knew him to try to learn why he apparently took his life.
Police Chief Gary Jenkins said officers have no apparent motive for the death of the 21-year-old athlete, who was found dead in his Pullman, Washington, apartment on Tuesday along with a rifle and a suicide note.
“The missing piece here is why,” Jenkins said. “Most of our investigation will be conducting interviews.”
Jenkins declined to reveal the contents of the suicide note.
Hilinski’s family in California issued a statement saying they were in “complete shock and disarray” over his death.
“Tyler was the kid that put a smile on everybody’s face when they were down, especially his family,” the statement said. “We will mourn the loss of Tyler for some time but celebrate the way he lived his life every day.”
A makeshift memorial for Hilinski has sprouted near the football stadium on the Pullman campus, next to a bronze statue of the team’s cougar mascot. The memorial included flowers and balloons.
Social media was also filled with comments about Hilinski. Former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf tweeted that he could not stop crying when he heard the news.
“Every human life is precious,” Leaf said, adding he wished he could have told Hilinski: “I’m just like you & I’ve been here & there is hope.”
Hilinski backed up Luke Falk this season and was the presumptive starter heading into his junior year.
He appeared in eight games during his sophomore season, throwing for 1,176 yards and seven touchdowns. The most memorable outing of his career came in the second week of the season, when he came off the bench to rally Washington State from a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State in triple overtime. Hilinski was carried off the field after the victory.
His only start came in a loss to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl in December, the final game of the season for the Cougars.
“Unbelievable,” Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke tweeted Tuesday night. “Had a chance to meet Tyler at the Holiday Bowl. Prayers up for his family and all of Washington State.”
Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie tweeted, “Man crazy to hear something like this after just competing with him and WSU.”
Former Washington State linebackers coach Roy Manning, who recently left for a position at UCLA, tweeted : “Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. My heart is beyond saddened. Please pray for the family and all of us affected!”
Washington State’s players took to social media in reaction to Hilinski’s death.
“Ty you were a great teammate, friend, brother anything we needed you to be. You brought smiles to the people around you. I am sorry I could not be there for you when you needed a smile for yourself. Love you man,” defensive back Skyler Thomas wrote on Twitter .
Fellow quarterback John Bledsoe also wrote on Twitter: “God, let Tyler find peace. Everyone please pray for the Hilinski family tonight. Heaven received a very special person.”
Hilinski was from Claremont, California, and went to high school in nearby Upland. He arrived on campus in 2015 and redshirted before appearing in four games in 2016.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.