Dolphins' Humphrey is shot by pal for driving 'fast, crazy'

February 09, 1993|By Scott Fowler | Scott Fowler,Knight-Ridder News Service

MIAMI -- The Bobby Humphrey merry-go-round spun wildly again yesterday, leaving the Miami Dolphins running back with a bullet wound in his leg and a bunch of explaining to do.

Humphrey was shot in the right thigh yesterday morning by Mark Steven Petties, a close friend and former football teammate of Humphrey's, as the two rode through Alabaster, Ala., in Humphrey's red Lexus.

Humphrey wasn't badly hurt and was discharged from the hospital in the afternoon. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Petties told U.S. Marshal Chris Harding at the shooting scene, 30 miles south of Birmingham: "Bobby was driving fast and crazy. He was acting crazy, too. I shot him, but I had to shoot him. He was going to either kill himself or hurt somebody else real bad."

Only eight days before, Columbus, Ga., police arrested Humphrey on charges of cocaine possession and aggravated assault after a loud fight between Humphrey and another close friend and former Alabama teammate, Vantreise Davis, prompted other guests at the Columbus Hilton to call police.

Humphrey, who doesn't plan to press charges against Petties, had been scheduled to meet with Dolphins coach Don Shula today to discuss his uncertain future with the team because of the Columbus arrest. That meeting has been postponed due to the shooting, but will take place later this week with a new, suddenly bulging agenda.

The one glimmer of good news for Humphrey -- shortly after he was brought by ambulance to Shelby Medical Center -- he took a drug test and passed it. That adds weight to Humphrey's contention that he does not have a drug problem.

"I can promise you that substance abuse is not a problem with my client," said Jerry Albano, Humphrey's agent. "I've talked to Bobby several times Monday about this, and he mainly can't believe that he has such a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The wrong place yesterday turned out to be the Interstate 65 expressway, northbound. Harding, who was simply driving to work but ended up confiscating the gun from Petties, was first on the shooting scene. Interviews with Harding and several others who talked to Petties and Humphrey helped piece together this story:

Humphrey had asked Petties to come with him on the ride to New Orleans "to use Mark as a sounding board for his personal problems," according to Victor Kelley, Petties' lawyer. The two also wanted to go to an athletic-shoe trade show that weekend.

Petties played high school football at Glenn High in Birmingham with Humphrey, and was a non-scholarship player at Alabama, where Humphrey starred. Petties never played in a game or earned a scholarship. But he did earn Humphrey's trust. Petties borrowed money from Humphrey to get started in the shoe business.

The trip was fine until the last 40 minutes of the six-hour drive back to Birmingham. Then, according to what Petties told policemen, Humphrey started driving too fast.

"Mark tried to take control of the car when Humphrey started driving crazily," Kelley said. "Humphrey wouldn't let him. A pistol was pulled, there was a struggle and the gun went off. There were mutual apologies afterward."

Humphrey pulled over into the far left lane after being shot, blocking a lane of traffic. Both men got out and started talking animatedly. Harding, meanwhile, was on his way to work and steaming because of the traffic snarl.

"There were several people before me that looked like they were going to pull off and assist, but the big guy Petties just kept waving them on with the gun," Harding said.

Harding stopped and flashed his marshal's badge at Petties, who immediately said: "That's Bobby Humphrey. I shot him."

The .38-caliber gun that Humphrey was shot with belonged to Petties. But Kelley said Humphrey, 26, also was attempting to shoot Petties in those frantic moments in the Lexus. The bullet grazed Humphrey's wrist, tearing his black leather trench coat, then sped through his right thigh and lodged in the driver's seat. Humphrey's football career shouldn't be affected by the injury, doctors agreed.

Humphrey thought once about making a break for it once Harding pulled over.

"Humphrey got in the car and cranked the engine when I got there," Harding said. "But Petties went to the car, took the keys out of the ignition and actually carried Bobby out and laid him down in the highway median."

Harding said Petties hugged Humphrey tightly as he placed him in the grass.

By this time, Humphrey wasn't feeling well, although he ultimately lost only a little blood. A woman used a cellular phone to summon police.

Humphrey was taken to the hospital and Petties, handcuffed, taken away by police. Both were free later in the day -- Humphrey after signing several autographs for hospital staff members, Petties without any bond and with no charges pending.

Humphrey's clean drug test eight days after the Columbus arrest duplicated the result of one he took a week earlier, sources say. His lawyer, John Swearingen, said he believes Humphrey's main problem is depression over an unstable relationship with his wife, Barbara.

Humphrey's blood-alcohol level was tested yesterday and it showed a .088, just under the legal limit of .10.

Alabaster police impounded Humphrey's car, got a search warrant and looked for drugs. They didn't find any, but they did come across $5,000 to $6,000 in cash, a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and bullets for a .38 pistol and the .45.

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