'It could have been ... anyone': Red Bank teenager recovering after drive-by shooting

'It could have been ... anyone': Red Bank teenager recovering after drive-by shooting

April 28th, 2013 by Beth Burger in Local Regional News

Red Bank High School senior classman Teddi Robinson, 18, sorts through get-well cards while speaking about the evening of April 15, 2013, when she was hit by a bullet while in her car. No arrests have been made.

Red Bank High School senior classman Teddi Robinson,...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


A confidential cash reward of $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person responsible for these shootings. Call the Red Bank Police Department at 423-875-0167, ext. 2101.

Teddi Robinson's slender, bronzed frame hunches inward.

The incision in her abdomen, covered in tape and bandages, pulls painfully every time she pushes her shoulders back to sit upright.

Robinson, 18, was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Red Bank the night of April 15. No arrest has been made.

The Red Bank High School senior was driving home on McCahill Road after taking photographs for the yearbook at a baseball game.

A single .40-caliber bullet slammed into her red Mercedes SLK, tore through her left arm and wreaked havoc in her abdomen.

Surgeons at Erlanger hospital worked on her for six hours, removing her gall bladder and part of her colon, stitching up her large and small intestines. The bullet stays with her, lodged behind one of her kidneys.

Susan Ruggiero, Robinson's mother, has more questions than answers about the shooting. Mostly, why?

Why Teddi?

"She truly represents any- and everybody's child. It could have been another friend, family member or anyone," Ruggiero said.

Maybe the shooting was gang-related. Maybe it was someone randomly firing off rounds. Maybe drug dealers were warring and the wrong car was struck.

"As they passed me, I heard a bang, but I thought they had hit the side of my car, and I remember spinning into a ditch," Robinson said. "It stopped for a second. I tried to put my car in park so it wouldn't go any further, but I accidentally put it in neutral and it rolled backwards. It went back through the ditch, across the road and down the hill into that field. My door had come open at some point. The minute my car stopped rolling, I took off running to the closest house."

She knocked on doors until she found help. A family contacted Ruggiero and stayed with Robinson until police and paramedics arrived.

Hours later, Robinson would ask her mother to crawl into the small hospital bed with her. It was a close call. Robinson was lucky.

As they lay in the hospital bed, hugging, Ruggiero remembers Teddi saying, "When I went in that field, all I could think was, 'This is how I will die tonight. Please, God, do not let me lay in this field and die all by myself.'"

"Can you imagine hearing that? I still get sick to my stomach thinking of it," Ruggiero said.

Red Bank Police Chief Timothy Christol said the department has received tips on the shooting.

"We are running down every single lead we are given," Christol said.

Another vehicle had been shot moments before on Morrison Springs Road and a black, four-door sedan with four black males inside was seen fleeing the area, traveling east. No one in the first car was injured.

The black sedan was seen to turn north on McCahill Road. Robinson was shot in the 4400 block.

Shell casings were found at both shooting scenes. Surveillance from local businesses has been checked for signs of the shooter's car.

"There was very few people in the area, as far as witnesses," Christol said.

He said there was no connection between Robinson and the other car that was fired on.

"[The victim] could have been anyone who was in that area at the time," he said.

Red Bank and Ruggiero's employer, Legacy Hotel Properties, have raised a cash reward of $1,000.

Ruggiero hopes someone will be arrested so there would be closure. An explanation. Maybe an apology.

The unknown is troublesome.

"She [Robinson] has said that the Lord will take care of him and the Lord took care of her," Ruggiero said.

"I just can't say I feel that way. I think as a Christian, you're supposed to be able to, but there's an anger in me," Ruggiero said. "But she has been [at peace] from the start."

Robinson remains resilient.

She looks forward to graduation. She looks forward to starting her freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"I'm not mad about it. You only have so much life. Why waste it? Why be mad about something?" she said. "You can't change something that has happened. Bad things are going to happen. You might as well accept it with a grin."

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at 423-757-6406 or bburger@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.