USC player shot before practice Wounded in arm, freshman was not intended target

September 29, 1992|By Jerry Crowe | Jerry Crowe,Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- Jon McGee, a freshman linebacker from Tucson, Ariz., was struck by gunfire yesterday as he waited for football practice to start at Southern California's Howard Jones Field.

Authorities said McGee was not the intended target but was hit by gang-related gunfire about a quarter-mile away.

McGee, 18, suffered what was described as a "through-and-through" wound, meaning the bullet passed completely through his arm above his left elbow. He was taken to the California Medical Center, where he was expected to remain overnight and undergo tests to determine if any blood vessels were damaged.

The intended target also was wounded in the 3:30 p.m. attack. He was a passenger in a car fired on by a bicyclist who, police said, shot three to five times.

Police Capt. Bob Kimball called McGee an innocent bystander. McGee was hit by an "arcing shot," Kimball said.

"I was walking on the field and I heard six or seven gunshots," McGee said in a statement released by the school. "Four or five seconds later, I felt something hit me in the arm. My arm went numb. I didn't know what was happening, and then I saw some blood and figured I was shot."

Said backup quarterback Corby Smith, son of USC coach Larry Smith: "Blood was pouring like Coke out of a can."

Ironically, because of a foot injury, McGee wore a yellow jersey so teammates would avoid hitting him.

"I was more mad than anything because this was supposed to be my first week back," said McGee, who is no relation to USC athletic director Mike McGee. "I couldn't believe it."

Dr. Amos Kuvhenguhwa said that McGee, an all-state linebacker at Tucson Sahuaro High last season, can't practice for two to three weeks.

Several teammates said they didn't realize what was happening.

"We were in walk-throughs and we heard 'pop, pop, pop,' " offensive tackle Len Gorecki said. "And then, about five seconds later, he [McGee] was going, 'Give me a trainer. I got shot, I got shot.' And everybody was going, 'What? He got shot?' "

Safety Stephon Pace said most players dismissed the sound of the gunfire, believing it to be fireworks or a car backfiring.

"In the city, we hear sounds like that every day," he said.

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