Aliquippa basketball star Pope shot overnight |
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Kevin Gorman

Aliquippa High School basketball star Herb Pope is recovering at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital after being shot four times early this morning in Aliquippa.

The shooting occurred sometime before 3 a.m. in the 800 block of 8th Avenue, Aliquippa Police Chief Ralph Pallante said.

“There was some sort of party,” Pallante said. “We don’t know if he was targeted or if this was just random.”

Pope, 18, was hit twice in the lower abdomen, once in the thigh and once in the right arm. The wounds required surgery, but aren’t believed to be life-threatening, Pallante said.

“He’s OK, I think,” Aliquippa boys basketball coach Marvin Emerson said.

“He’s out of the woods,” said J.O. Stright, founder of the Pittsburgh J.O.T.S. AAU basketball club, for which Pope played the past few years. “They’re talking about rehab.”

Stright, who visited Pope in the hospital, said bullet fragments were lodged in Pope’s forearm.

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Pope, who has signed a letter of intent to attend New Mexico State, was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2006 Boys Basketball Player of the Year and is regarded one of the nation’s top 50 prospects. He averaged 19 points per game this season while leading Aliquippa to the WPIAL Class AA championship. The Quips lost to defending champion Prep Charter in the PIAA final last Saturday at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.

Aliquippa police, as well as Pope’s family and friends, were trying to piece together Saturday how the basketball star ended up hospitalized with four gunshot wounds.

Emergency crews got a call stating that a 21-year-old man named Tremaine Foster had suffered a heart attack in the Aliquippa neighborhood. When rescuers arrived, they were told that a man had been shot and had been taken to Aliquippa Community Hospital by private vehicle.

Foster’s condition is not known.

Pallante said police don’t know who the shooter is, and don’t think investigators will know until they speak with Pope.

“We won’t have more until someone speaks,” Pallante said. “Naturally, when this type of thing happens, a lot of people scatter.”

Pope overcame a troubled childhood to rise to basketball stardom. He was raised in foster homes and with relatives in Beaver County, attending schools in the Aliquippa, Big Beaver Falls and Beaver school districts before transferring to Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md., in ninth grade. Pope returned to Beaver County as a sophomore, enrolling first at Hopewell before transferring to Aliquippa.

Named to the PARADE All-American team last week, Pope was supposed to leave today for Chicago to play in the 43rd Roundball Classic Tuesday at the United Center.

“It’s time for Herb to get out of town,” Stright said.

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