Umpire shot trying to halt robbers AL's Palermo listed in serious condition

July 08, 1991|By Thaai Walker | Thaai Walker,Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- American League umpire Steve Palermo and a former pro football player were shot early yesterday while trying to help two women who were being robbed.

Police said the two men were shot near Campisi's Egyptian Restaurant in Dallas. Four men were arrested in connection with the shooting.

Palermo, who worked the Texas Rangers-California Angels game Saturday night, was listed in serious condition yesterday at Parkland Memorial Hospital after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound in the back, said head nurse Pat Deshong.

Rich Garcia, Palermo's crew chief, who spoke with him after the two-hour surgery, told The Associated Press: "There's a possibility of some paralysis, and that's our biggest concern."

But hospital spokeswoman Esther Bauer said late last night that Palermo did not exhibit any signs of paralysis.

Terrence Mann, a former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman who also played for Southern Methodist University, sustained a gunshot wound to the neck and was listed in good condition at Presbyterian Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Karen Harris told the AP.

The shooting occurred about 1:30 a.m., when Palermo, 41, who has been an AL umpire since 1977, Mann and restaurant owner Corky Campisi tried to aid two waitresses being robbed in the restaurant's parking lot.

Three of the attackers drove away, but one began running.

Palermo, Mann and Campisi, who were unarmed, chased him. The three men in the car returned and shot Palermo and Mann. Campisi was not injured; the two waitresses suffered minor injuries.

Mann, who was with the Dolphins in 1987 and 1988, and Palermo were having dinner -- though not together -- at Campisi's, a restaurant popular with sports figures, when the attempted robbery occurred, said Dallas police Detective Bill Sanders.

A bartender noticed several men trying to rob two of the restaurant's waitresses in the parking lot, police said.

Dixie Bristow, one of the waitresses, said she and Melinda Henson were approached by three men while they were walking to their cars after getting off work. A fourth man apparently was waiting in a car nearby, Sanders said.

"They had her down on the ground, and I thought they were going to kill her," Bristow said. "I went to help her, and this other man hit me."

Police said one man grabbed at Henson's purse. Henson clutched her purse and tried to run, but was hit on the head by the man.

A bartender at Campisi's saw the confrontation and went back into the restaurant for help, police said.

Campisi said he, Palermo and Mann just had finished eating dinner when the bartender ran in.

"The bartender came in and yelled to us, 'Someone is mugging the waitresses -- come on!' " Campisi said. "Our natural instinct was to run out and help."

Three of the attackers drove off in a car, while Palermo, Mann and Campisi chased the fourth across a highway overpass, police said. They caught the man a few blocks away near North Central Expressway.

"We were standing there holding the suspect down, and they pulled up on us and started shooting," Campisi said. "I never even saw them coming up."

One of the suspects hit Campisi in the face. Campisi said he saw one suspect fire at Mann three times, striking him in the neck and arm.

"I'll never forget seeing that as long as I live," Campisi said. "They came and helped us because they're my friends. They were being good Samaritans, and that's how they got paid back. It's just not fair."

Garcia, who had been eating with Palermo but left before the incident, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "It's courageous for anyone to do that when ladies or elderly people are in trouble. Unfortunately, someone gets hurt, and it's always the wrong person. . . . I'm just praying to God he recovers and comes back and does his job. I don't care how long it takes."

Kevin Dwayne Bivens, 21, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of robbery in connection with the shootings. Bail was set at $75,000.

Jerry Fuller, 26, was charged with one count of robbery, with bail set at $50,000. Vernon Ray Myers, 20, was charged with one count of robbery, with bail set at $25,000.

Police did not release information on the fourth suspect, who is a juvenile.

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