PULLMAN, Wash. -- Police said Tuesday night that Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In a news release, police said officers were called to the Aspen Village Apartments at about 4:30 p.m. to "check on the welfare of a Washington State University (WSU) football player who did not show up for practice earlier in the day."
"Officers arrived and found Tyler Hilinski, 21 years old, deceased in the apartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A rifle was recovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found," police said.
"Pullman Police detectives and the Whitman County Coroner's Office are conducting a thorough investigation to confirm the suspected cause and manner of death," police said.
WSU head football coach Mike Leach said in a written statement, "We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler's passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
His brother posted this tweet:
Hilinski, of Claremont, Calif., was a redshirt sophomore on the football team this past season and was the presumptive starting quarterback going into next season. Hilinski started Washington State's Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State -- and went 39-of-50 for 272 yards with two touchdowns and one interception -- after Luke Falk was unable to play due to a wrist injury.
On Tuesday night, WSU President Kirk Schulz tweeted, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hilinski family."
The university's interim athletic director, John Johnson, said, "The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.
Johnson said the entire football team was brought together earlier Tuesday night and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services.
"The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed," Johnson said.
The university said all WSU students needing immediate assistance can contact the 24/7 WSU Crisis Line at 509-335-2159. Staff and faculty can received assistance at the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) State toll-free number at 1-877-313-4455.
Former WSU star quarterback Ryan Leaf tweeted, "I'm so f------ angry, I can't stop crying. Every human life is precious. All I wish is that I could've been in that apt in Pullman, looked that amazing young man in the eyes & said you're loved Tyler! I'm just like you & I've been here & there is hope, hugged him & never let go."
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."