WSU community stunned, grieves after QB Tyler Hilinski’s apparent suicide

PULLMAN, Wash. (KCPQ) — 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.

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SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 28: Washington State (3) Tyler Hilinski (QB) looks warms up prior to the kickoff during the Holiday Bowl game between the Washington State Cougars and the Michigan State Spartans on December 28, 2017 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 03: Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars looks on prior to the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Martin Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Pullman, Washington. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
PULLMAN, WA - NOVEMBER 05: Quarterback Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars looks on from the sidelines in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at Martin Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Pullman, Washington. Washington State defeated Arizona 69-7. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 16: Quarterback Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars looks on in the second half against the Oregon State Beavers at Martin Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Pullman, Washington. Washington State defeated Oregon State 52-23. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
PULLMAN, WA - OCTOBER 21: Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars warms up from the sidelines in the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Martin Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Pullman, Washington. Washington State defeated Colorado 28-0. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 28: Quarterback Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars looks to make a pass in the second half of the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona Wildcats won 58-37. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 28: Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) back to pass in the first half of the Holiday Bowl played against the Michigan State Spartans, on December 28, 2017, played at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 28: Tyler Hilinski #3 of the Washington State Cougars passes the ball against the Michigan State Spartans during the first half of the SDCCU Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium on December 28, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 28: Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski (3) takes the snap from the shotgun in the fourth quarter of the Holiday Bowl played against the Michigan State Spartans, on December 28, 2017, played at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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“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."

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