INDIANAPOLIS -- Jamaal Tinsley knows he has to make
lifestyle changes, and he feels blessed to have the chance.
That was the Indiana Pacers guard's mindset 36 hours after being
shot at with an assault weapon in front of a downtown Indianapolis
hotel. He was not injured.
"The man upstairs, he gave me another opportunity to see
another day. When athletes step out, anything can happen," the
sixth-year player said after Monday's practice.
Tinsley met with coach Jim O'Brien and team president Larry Bird
a day after the guard and several companions were targeted in the
early Sunday morning shooting that wounded the team's equipment
manager. The suspected shooters have not been arrested as police
continue to investigate.
According to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt.
Paul Thompson, at least three people in Tinsley's group had guns,
all of which were legal. Though police didn't say Tinsley was
carrying a gun, he does have a permit.
The team didn't punish Tinsley in the latest instance of Pacers
players finding trouble -- or trouble finding them.
First-year coach O'Brien said Tinsley did nothing wrong, other
than making bad decisions, but he knows the damage might already
have been done to an image the franchise has worked frantically to
"Of course, you worry about your fans and the community and how
people look at you," Tinsley said. "I made a stupid mistake,
"I'm very disappointed that it happened, with me. It was
supposed to be fun. That's all I wanted to do is have fun."
This episode was Tinsley's third late-night incident in about 14
months. It is the latest in a three-year string of off-court
problems that have engulfed the franchise, starting with a brawl
with Detroit Pistons fans in 2004.
He was there when then-teammate Jackson fired a gun into the air
several times before being hit by a car at an Indianapolis strip
club in October 2006. Tinsley and another Pacers player, Marquis Daniels, face a Jan. 14 trial on charges stemming from a bar fight
nearly a year ago.
In the latest incident, Tinsley's group had arrived at the
"Cloud 9" club in a Mercedes, a Rolls Royce and a Dodge Charger,
all owned by Tinsley. Thompson said a group gathered around the Rolls Royce and
gave Tinsley a hard time about his cars and his earnings.
After leaving the club, the group realized after leaving the club that a car and a
pickup truck were following them, Thompson said, adding there were at
least two people in the truck and four in the car.
Instead of going home, Tinsley's group pulled into the Conrad
Hotel parking lot, where someone in the pursuing vehicles opened
fire with a .223 caliber assault rifle, spraying bullets on the
hotel, Tinsley's cars and nearby buildings.
Pacers trainer Joey Qatato was struck in both elbows as he sat
with Tinsley in the Rolls Royce, which was hit by several bullets,
as was the Charger. The 48-year-old Qatato was taken to Methodist
Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Following the shooting at the hotel, Tinsley's brother, James,
was part of a group that chased the shooter in one of Jamaal
James Tinsley, who also has a gun permit, fired his 9 millimeter
handgun during the chase but hasn't been charged because the
incident is still under investigation, Thompson said. Jamaal
Tinsley did not participate in the chase.
Audio of a 911 call between dispatchers and hotel staff was released Monday by police and obtained by the Indianapolis Star. According to the newspaper, dispatchers called the hotel after receiving an incomplete call for assistance.
On the tape, a hotel manager said six to seven shots were fired and that a gunshot victim was inside their lobby.
"We have a guy who has apparently been hit," the manager told the 911 dispatcher, according to the Star's report.
Rich professional athletes getting into trouble isn't new.
Examples are found in all pro sports.
However, the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, despite
having a higher profile in the city, haven't had the same problems
with their athletes.
Colts coach Tony Dungy said Tinsley's trouble scratches the
surface of a larger problem -- violence toward athletes -- that has
been spotlighted since the murder of Washington Redskins defensive
back Sean Taylor last month.
"I didn't really think of it as a Pacers issue, I thought about
it as an American issue," Dungy said on Monday. "There's a lot of
that going on around the country. Somehow, we have to get the
message out to the whole country that this is not the way to go.
Life is too precious."
Dungy said his team polices itself.
"I don't know that I have to reiterate it to the team," he
said, "but it's an opportunity in the community to get the message
out that you've got to be careful where you go and who you
associate with, that firing guns and trying to kill people is not
the way to go."
However, incidents such as the shootout and chase that appear to
be taken straight from a movie set, aren't that unusual.
"It happens all the time," Thompson said. "I'm not going to
say it happens every day, but it does happen. It's not unheard of.
"The only reason it's noteworthy is because it's Jamaal
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.