Victim recalls `pops of the gun'

Student: Randallstown High's quarterback recounts the shooting at the school that left him injured.

May 14, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Sitting on the couch in the basement of his home, with a bullet fragment in his ankle and a cast that runs from his foot to the base of his kneecap, Marcus McLain said he feels blessed.

One of the four victims of the shooting May 7 at Randallstown High School, McLain, 16, was hit by a bullet in his right ankle.

Being at home is tough on McLain, who quarterbacked the Rams' football team to the Class 3A state semifinals last fall. The injury has aborted his off-season workout regimen and will force him to skip a training combine next month where the high school junior planned to showcase his improved throwing skills and footwork.

But McLain knows things could be much worse.

"I have some doctors' appointments set up, and they say I'm going to make a full recovery with hard work. I should be all right for next season," he said. "But I realize that this could be much worse. This could easily have gotten me in another spot."

Doctors at Sinai Hospital removed part of the bullet, which missed his Achilles tendon, but left a fragment inside. McLain spent Friday night at the hospital and returned home Saturday morning, where he has been since.

McLain's wide receiver teammate, William Thomas, wasn't so fortunate.

Thomas, who McLain said was only a few feet from the shooter, was the most seriously injured. The senior is in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with gunshot wounds to the neck, back and lung. Another victim, sophomore Andre Mellerson, was listed in fair condition with a shoulder injury at Shock Trauma yesterday.

A fourth, Alex Brown, like McLain, was treated at Shock Trauma and released. Brown's mother, Juanita Mahomes, said a bullet entered her son's shoulder through his back but did not hit any vital organs or arteries.

Brown was sore yesterday, she said, after a surgery that extracted the bullet from his shoulder. But the 17-year-old basketball point guard, who plans to walk on at Xavier University where he will study biology, is "healing."

Brown, reached by telephone, said getting shot has made him more appreciative of life. "I'm more cautious now," he said. Brown planned to attend his senior prom last night.

On May 7, McLain watched a charity event featuring politicians alongside his football coach, Albert Howard.

"They were pretty good. They had a couple of dunks going on. It was enjoyable, people were having fun," said McLain. "After the game, I went outside and I was walking down the steps in front of the school, talking to one of my friends. Then I heard somebody yell, `Gun.'"

All at once, McLain said, he saw a youth near a car, about 30 feet away, reaching for a gun and then shooting. Thomas got hit first, McLain said.

"I heard the pops of the gun, then I saw my friend, Tippa [Thomas] -- he was at least five feet, maybe a little closer to the car. I saw him get shot and go down," McLain said.

"I looked at the person who had the gun, and that's when I turned around and started running," he said.

McLain ran toward the school and up the first of two flights of stairs leading to the school's front doors. That's when he was shot.

"I didn't even have to look down. I felt a bad burn, but I kept on running because he was still shooting," he said.

He stumbled to the front door of the school, pushed the door open and fell inside. That's when his cousin, Jordan McLain, took off his shirt and wrapped it around the injured ankle.

"I was thinking, `My career is over,'" McLain said.

His mother, Cynthia McLain, 48, said yesterday that she was thankful for the quarterback's acute vision that helped her son spot the shooter during the split-second after someone yelled, "Gun!"

She is also thankful for his speed -- McLain clocks a 4.6-second 40-yard dash -- that allowed him to "zoom up the steps," as she put it, and to escape further harm.

Arrested and charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder were Matthew McCullough, 17; Ronald P. Johnson, 20; Antonio R. Jackson, 21; and Tyrone D. Brown, 23. They are being held without bail at Baltimore County Detention Center.

Jackson was accused of driving the alleged getaway car that police recovered in Pikesville shortly after the shooting. Brown, known as "Fat Boy," and McCullough are accused of being the gunmen who fired shots in the parking lot crowded with 70 students.

McLain said he hopes to return to school next week. He said he does not view his school as dangerous because of the incident. Cynthia McLain said she holds no ill will for the boys accused of shooting her son. "They are children. I'm praying for them," she said.

Sun staff writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

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