Drugs played a role in South Side shooting
Police are investigating whether the Thursday night shooting that injured an 18-year-old Struthers standout athlete may have resulted from a drug deal gone awry.
Tommy Kimbrough, 18, of Wilson Avenue, Struthers, was shot in the shoulder about 6 p.m. Thursday in the area of Midlothian Boulevard on the city’s South Side. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center for treatment, where he was listed in stable condition late Friday.
Police emphasized no one has yet been charged with the shooting or the alleged drug deal.
Police Capt. Mark Milstead said it appears drugs were a factor in the shooting.
“Apparently, this must have been a marijuana deal gone sour. That’s what it looks like at this point. Our guys recovered a small bag of marijuana at the scene,” Milstead said.
Kimbrough was a quarterback and defensive back on the Struthers football team in 2011, and played as a receiver and a defensive back in 2012, earning second team all-conference honors with 33 catches for 515 yards and five TDs along with 69 tackles on defense.
Kimbrough is one of the school’s best basketball players — he scored 21 in a win over Liberty earlier this year — but started just three of the team’s first 12 games, in part because he has missed several basketball practices this winter, according to a source familiar with the situation. Another source said no determination has been made about Kimbrough’s future athletic eligibility.
Struthers superintendent Joe Nohra, athletic director Mark Carden, and basketball coach Joe Savko had no comment Friday. A message left for football coach Curt Kuntz was not returned.
Police initially received a call about the shooting from a 17-year-old Struthers girl who was with Kimbrough at the time. She told emergency personnel she was in the parking lot of a former Mexican restaurant at Midlothian and Zedaker Street with a friend who had been shot.
The girl at first told police she did not know how Kimbrough had been shot, but then later changed her story, saying there was drug activity just before the shooting.
When officers arrived, Kimbrough was being treated by paramedics as the female and a 19-year-old Boardman man stood by watching. Police questioned each of them separately.
The male witness told police the trio was parked up the street when three male blacks, one carrying a gun with a laser, began running toward them and opened fire.
The female told police she “picked [Kimbrough] up after basketball practice” and the two were out riding around when they met up with the other male. She initially told police she did not know how Kimbrough was shot, but police noticed her walk away and hide something behind a nearby building, reports say.
Police later determined that marijuana had been hidden behind the building.
Reports say the female changed her story and told police the two males were involved in some sort of drug transaction. She, reportedly, told police she was told to park in a specific place, but heard a noise and saw three men running toward her car. She heard gunfire as she sped away.
Milstead said it is unclear what role the marijuana played in the shooting or what role the shooting victims played in the sale of the drugs, but detectives are still looking into the matter.
“We are not at the point where we know how the marijuana figures into this situation other than to say drugs are a common thread in a lot of these shootings,” he said.
Contributor: Vindicator sports writer Joe Scalzo.