Paintball shooting severely injures star athlete

April 2, 2009 11:36:56 AM PDT
If you think a paintball gun is a toy, think again. As 17-year-old Sean Cross, a star high school athlete, rode his bike on Frankford Avenue, a van pulled up alongside and a passenger opened fire with a paintball gun. "At first I didn't react, I just thought it was a bad dream I couldn't wake up from," Cross told Action News Wednesday night.

Sean's left eye was smashed.

"And my friend said he got hit in the head and he said 'are you alright' and I said 'no, I can't see," Cross said.

Sean's eye was removed today.

Cross would have been working out with his team today. He's a starting pitcher for the Lincoln High Rail-splitters and drove in the game winning run last Friday.

On early Saturday morning, however, his big league dreams may have come to an end.

"He was little upset before he went into surgery, but everyone was talking to him, telling him he was going to be okay; it's better his eye than him losing his life," Sean's cousin Crystal Hannah said.

Police say two other boys were also hit that night; they're hoping to get a better description of the minivan.

"These guys were probably out all night riding around in this minivan. I'm sure they shot at other people; even if they didn't get hit, we would love to hear from them," Captain John McGinnis of the Philadelphia Police said.

Sean's teammate have been visiting him at home, and in the hospital.

They've also taken up a collection for his medical bills.

"He's a leader on and off the field. He showed by example. He was always there to cheer somebody up. Most of all, he was a friend," teammate Dylan Gallagher said.

The team has been doing research on other players, even professionals, who've been able to play again after losing an eye.

They're hoping to have Sean back on the field soon, until then, the season is dedicated to him.

"Every game we are going to honor Sean by playing our hardest, playing our most focused baseball, and we are going to play every game for Sean," Lincoln High baseball coach John Larsen said.

Police say whoever shot Sean faces attempted murder charges, but while Sean hopes they get caught, he's not vengeful. His thoughts are mainly with his teammates.

"I hope they make it far in the playoffs. I hope they win the championship and I'm hoping to get back on that field again," Sean said.

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