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Freshman on Titan Basketball Team Shot

Crime: Reserve guard Anderson is critical but in stable condition after shooting in family's Los Angeles neighborhood.

March 04, 2000|LON EUBANKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rodney Anderson, a Cal State Fullerton freshman basketball player, was critically wounded by gunshots fired by an unknown assailant Thursday evening on a street in his family's Los Angeles neighborhood.

Anderson was listed in critical but stable condition on Friday at Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Anderson was standing outside an apartment complex at 1235 94th St. with two acquaintances just before 7 p.m. Thursday when the assailant approached, said Sgt. Craig Ditsch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lennox station.

The gunman did not appear to be targeting Anderson and shot at the whole group, Ditsch said.

Anderson suffered three bullet wounds to his chest and right forearm from a small-caliber handgun, Ditsch said.

Anderson had gone home to have dinner with his mother, Martha, said Todd Johnson, a Fullerton assistant coach.

"According to one of his sisters, whom I spoke with at the hospital, Rodney had gone down the street to talk with some of his friends when someone no one knew walked up behind him and shot him," Johnson said.

Brent Smedley, the basketball team's trainer, said he spoke with one of Anderson's attending physicians, who told Smedley that one of the bullets "severed the spinal cord at the C-7 level," causing some paralysis. A hospital spokesman confirmed there was some paralysis.

All of Fullerton's players and coaches went to the hospital Friday morning and visited Anderson, Johnson said. They learned of the shooting that morning, and a scheduled practice was canceled.

"Each one of them talked to him at the hospital," Johnson said. "Everyone likes Rodney. He's a good kid and has been very appreciative of his opportunity to come to Fullerton and play basketball here."

Anderson has been one of Fullerton's top reserves this season and averaged 16 minutes in the last seven games. He was averaging 3.4 points for the season.

Anderson, a 6-2 guard, played at George Washington Prep in Los Angeles.

"This is really hard," Fullerton player Matt Caldwell said. "You hear about shootings like that happening, but never think it could happen to someone like Rodney. Rodney is one of those guys who's always happy and smiling and having fun. All of us really like him, and he liked being around us."

The Titans play their final game of a season at home tonight against New Mexico State.

"I'd love to be able to play in the last game and dedicate it to Rodney," said Caldwell, who has been sidelined after having shoulder surgery in early January. "But there's no way they're going to let me play this quickly after surgery."

Fullerton has an 8-18 record and is in last place in the Big West Conference's Western Division. Coach Bob Hawking has resigned effective at the end of the season.

Staff writer Ann L. Kim contributed to this story.

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