Hudson quarterback shot during robbery attempt



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Fri. July 30, 2010 | Times Staff

By Erin Sullivan and Izzy Gould, Times Staff Writers


HUDSON - Hudson High football quarterback Austin Smith was shot Thursday night as he joined two others in an attempted robbery at a home in the Beacon Woods subdivision, deputies said.

A woman in the house shot Smith, 16, once in a leg as he attempted to flee, according to a sheriff's office report. He was treated at a local hospital and then booked in the juvenile detention center along with Dontaie Collins, 17, who was a wide receiver and captain of the Hudson football team last season. Deputies also arrested Reginald Antoine Cotman, 19, whom they described as a getaway driver.

Smith and Collins were invited into a house at 12210 Pepper Mill Drive at 11:30 p.m. Thursday to play video games with two teens who live there, authorities said. While one teen was in the bathroom, Collins allegedly grabbed $3,000 in cash that was on a bedroom dresser.

Collins ran out of the house, but Smith was grabbed by the two teens, who called for help from the adult residents of the home - a 50-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman, said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin. The woman grabbed her .38-caliber revolver and shot at Smith twice, hitting him once in the lower leg before he ran out the door.

Tobin did not identify the woman, but a deputy's report gave her last name as Belfus. Property records identify Deborah Belfus as the homeowner. The Times was unable to reach her on Friday.

Cotman drove Smith and Collins to the house, waited around the corner for them and acted as a getaway driver after the robbery and shooting, said deputies, who found the trio at Collins' house in Colony Lakes in New Port Richey Friday morning.

Tobin said the stolen cash - which the residents said was for an upcoming trip - was recovered at the home.

All three teens were charged with robbery. Cotman, of 7833 Tropicana Drive in the Jasmine Lakes area of Port Richey, was being held at the county jail Friday in lieu of $10,000 bail. He told authorities he knew nothing about the robbery.

Collins, who is about to enter his senior year at Hudson High, told deputies he didn't take the money. This is Collins' fourth arrest, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He was previously charged with burglary, trespassing and larceny.

Smith, a junior, was also arrested in Pasco in May 2009 on a felony charge of larceny, according to FDLE. The charge was dismissed in December.

Smith and Collins remained in juvenile custody Friday, Tobin said.

Hudson coach Justin Fenton learned of the incident Friday afternoon from a Times reporter.

"That might explain why they weren't at workouts this morning," Fenton said. "They are good friends."

Hudson athletic director Andy Schmitz was on a trip Friday afternoon, and had no comment as he continued to gather details.

Smith was quoted in a Times article earlier this month, praising the team's new coach. Smith said Fenton doesn't like slackers and he pushes his players hard, which Smith said he likes.

Fenton "gave me a chance," Smith said, "and I'm going to show him what I can do."

Collins had 505 receiving yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions last year.

The Pasco County student handbook states a student-athlete's arrest for an on- or off-campus incident results in a 20-day suspension from practice or competition once the administration is made aware of the incident.

That would make both players ineligible for preseason practice, which begins Aug. 9.

Smith's mother, Sheila Smith, said late Friday her son said "he did not do anything and some woman shot him."

She said the boys were not armed or carrying weapons.

"You don't shoot a child," she said. She believes the woman should be charged.

"There should be consequences," Smith said.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

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