Northside football player worried about upcoming game after being shot

WARNER ROBINS -- Sakandra Snead was smoking a cigarette on the corner of her front porch on Camellia Circle early Sunday night when she saw someone running toward her from her backyard.

Frightened, the 35-year-old mother of four said she immediately went inside and shut the door. A daughter peered through the front window.

“Help me! I’ve been shot,” a male voice shouted from the other side of the front door. He begged her to come outside and help him.

She told him she had the police on the phone and opened the door.

Her heart flooded with compassion as she realized he was only a teenager. He was later identified as Austin Roberts, 17, a defensive lineman for Northside High School’s football team.

She could see blood on his white T-shirt.

Snead said she waited with him as he reclined sideways across her bottom steps. He asked her to pray with him while the ambulance was on its way, and she did.

“The only thing he said was -- he was walking, shots were fired, he ran and that was it,” Snead said when asked if Roberts was able to tell her anything about who shot him or what had happened.

She said she tried to comfort him and keep him calm.

“He was so concerned about his football,” Snead said. “He kept saying he had a football game against Veterans, and he was worried about that.”

Northside plays Veterans High School on Thursday.

Police said the 11th-grader was shot in the back about 6:30 p.m. in the 200 block of Wendan Way. He apparently ran through yards to reach the front of Snead’s home in the 400 block of Camellia Circle one street over. He was treated and released the same night from The Medical Center of Central Georgia, police said.

Authorities interviewed witnesses Tuesday in an attempt to determine how Roberts was shot and by whom, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police. Roberts is cooperating with authorities, she said

Roberts was shot with a handgun after some sort of confrontation on Wendan Way, Pugh said. She did not know what the confrontation was about and declined to speculate whether Roberts was directly involved or happened to be in the area when the shots rang out. The incident occurred among a “group of people,” she said.

Northside football head coach Kevin Kinsler said Sunday that Roberts was shot at a neighborhood gathering.

“Somebody started shooting, and everyone scattered. (Roberts) just happened to get hit,” Kinsler said.

He said Tuesday that he does not believe Roberts was part of a “confrontation.”

“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kinsler said.

Kinsler said a lot of Northside students live in that area and hang out there. Sewell Circle Park, which has basketball courts is nearby, he said.

Numerous people outside their homes along Wendan Way on Tuesday either declined comment, said they didn’t know anything about a shooting, or acknowledged the shooting but said they didn’t see or hear anything or weren’t at home.

When asked why no one wanted to talk about it, one man said, “Maybe they don’t want to get shot.”

Rebecca Boyd, who lives near Sewell Circle Park, said she heard about three or four shots fired Sunday night and saw one young man running from the Wendan Way area, followed by two each on a bicycle and then several others.

Boyd said young people between their late teens and early 20s used to congregate at the park but now congregate along Wendan Way since police presence was beefed up at the park and in the area during the summer.

She said it’s not uncommon for shots to be heard in the area. She thinks the shots are fired into the air.

“That bullet will come down somewhere,” said Boyd, who expressed concern about the safety of her grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood.

Roberts’ grandmother Mary Lane said she learned of the shooting Sunday night when her daughter stopped by her Warner Robins home on the way to the hospital. Lane last saw Roberts when he left her home Sunday.

Lane said she doesn’t know anything about the shooting other than she was told he was shot in the back.

“It was a cowardly way of doing it,” Lane said.

Roberts has been recuperating at his mother’s home in Perry since being released from the hospital, Lane said. Samantha Jones, his mother, declined to comment by telephone. His father was not reached for comment.

Vincent Sanders, whose 17-year-old son was listed on the police report about the shooting as “others involved,” said Tuesday he has not had an opportunity to talk to his son about what happened. No one was at the home of a 16-year-old Northside High student also listed under “others involved” on the report.

It’s not known when Roberts, a Telegraph All-Middle Georgia selection for the 2011 season and a preseason All-Middle Georgia selection in 2012, will be able to play again.

Roberts, who was at school Tuesday and watched football practice afterward, has a doctor’s visit Thursday, Kinsler said.

Kinsler said he understood the bullet traveled in one side and out the other.

“God was really watching out for him,” Kinsler said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Warner Robins police detective Carder Gravitt at (478) 929-6911 or Macon Regional Crime Stoppers at 1 (877) 68CRIME.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.