MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A college football player was injured in a drive-by shooting Wednesday night in Martin County, according to deputies.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office said the victim was walking from the Step in Food convenience store toward the Manatee Creek subdivision just after 11 p.m. when he was shot multiple times by someone in a passing vehicle.
"This is alarming for us, that area is a relatively safe, quiet area," Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.
Budensiek said the person, or persons, involved used a high-powered rifle.
"[I heard a] really loud, like 'bang bang bang,'" a Manatee Creek resident, who asked only to go by the name Betty, said. "I've grown up in this community for years, I just want everybody to be safe."
"They never have shootings here," Ralph Terrell, a Manatee Creek resident, added. "It's pretty quiet."
Investigators said the victim, who is in his 20s, was in town visiting family for the holiday. They also said he is a star college football athlete who grew up in the Port Salerno area and now attends school out of state.
A close friend of the victim, Dominick Victor, said he was horrified to get the call.
"None of this feels real, it's hard to like, so much emotion, it just doesn't feel real," Victor said.
Victor was on his way to visit another friend's grave and said he was still reeling from almost losing another.
"I'm glad he's alive. ... I texted him. I said, 'Hopefully there's no life-changing injuries,' because how can you be a wide receiver and get shot in both hands?"
Budensiek said he wasn't sure if the injuries were career-ending, and also wasn't sure yet if the shooting was random or targeted.
Victor, however, hoped the community sees how violence impacts lives.
"I mean, there's a lesson to be taken from everything, and I used to be foolish when I was younger, and I think it's time for people to start using their heads," Victor said.
The man was hit at least three times by gunfire. Budensiek said the victim was on the phone at the time and said the first bullet hit his index finger and his phone.
"It was inches from a homicide case," Budensiek said.
Budensiek said his injuries were described as not life-threatening. The victim, whose name hasn't been released, is being treated at a local hospital.
The sheriff's office said they believe those involved in the shooting were driving a dark-colored sedan, which was captured in this video.
Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Martin County Sheriff's Office or Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-8477.