Monday, January 22, 2018
Public safety

Few clues, answers in drive-by shooting of Gibbs football player

ST. PETERSBURG — When police called Sharon Hall and said her 18-year-old son had been shot, she wanted answers.

Why would anyone shoot her son, a star football player at Gibbs High School? Would he survive?

When police told her that witnesses at a party her son had attended were not talking, Hall snapped.

Before heading to the hospital to check on her son, Hall barged into the back yard of the two-story house near 10th Avenue S and 14th Street where the party was held. She banged on tables and demanded that witnesses come forward.

No one did.

"My family is torn apart about this," Hall, 36, said. "My son was about to die up there."

Maurice Hall was shot once during a drive-by shooting Saturday night. Doctors have told his family he will make a full recovery.

But Hall, who already is drawing interest from major colleges, will miss the rest of the high school football season.

While the teen recovers at Bayfront Medical Center, detectives continue to investigate the shooting that left few clues behind. They have no shell casings or suspect description. "At this point," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Michael Puetz, "we don't have any idea."

Just after 10 p.m. Saturday, Hall was at a party at the two-story house when he stepped outside with a friend. They were walking nearby when a green car with two or three people inside pulled up. Several shots were fired. The driver then sped off.

One bullet ripped through Hall's right hip bone and lodged near his stomach and colon.

He underwent surgery to have the bullet removed. He is expected to be in the hospital for more than a week.

Over the weekend, family, friends and coaches visited him. On Monday, two balloons — one with a yellow happy face, the other reading "get well" — floated near a window.

Hall, bundled up in a white sheet and dressed in a blue hospital gown, was numb from the medication. But he was feeling a different kind of pain.

He has wanted to play football since he can remember. His mother recalls him carrying a football in the house at age 3.

In high school, Hall joined the football team his freshman year, most recently playing linebacker and receiver. He also is on the school's basketball team.

On Saturday afternoon, Hall and his football coach, Antonio Knox, were reviewing his options for after high school. A junior at Gibbs, Hall has an offer to play for the University of Oklahoma, a top-notch college football program. Dozens of other schools have said they are watching him.

"When he was in the ninth grade, you could tell that he had talent and he just needed some guidance, and he's just come a long way," Knox said. "He means a lot to our football team."

Doctors told his family that he can't play for 12 weeks.

"I was a big part of it," Hall said as he quickly wiped a tear from his cheek. "Now, they're gonna have to find somebody else."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

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