PALMETTO BAY, Fla. -- Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was critically wounded in a pre-dawn shooting at his home Monday, and doctors were encouraged when he responded to simple commands after several hours of surgery.
The 24-year-old player was shot in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss. Family members were concerned he could have permanent brain damage.
|Local police responded to a 911 call at Sean Taylor's house early Monday morning. (AP)|
Later Monday, Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations, offered encouraging news from the hospital.
"He was responsive to the doctor's request to squeeze his hand and show facial expression, and so the doctors were very happy about that," said Cerrato, who flew to Florida on owner Dan Snyder's plane with Snyder, running back Clinton Portis and trainer Bubba Tyer. "They told us to hope for a miracle, and I think the positive news we got was extremely good news."
Miami-Dade Police were investigating the attack, which came eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor's home. Officers were dispatched about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor's girlfriend called 911. Taylor was airlifted to the hospital.
"For all of us here, we're obviously in shock," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said at the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Va. "I know I can't put it in words."
Sharpstein said Taylor's girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor's 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house at the time, but neither she nor Taylor's girlfriend were injured.
"It could have been a possible burglary; it could have been a possible robbery," Miami-Dade Police Lt. Nancy Perez said. "It has not been confirmed as yet."
Taylor was shot at the pale yellow house he bought two years ago in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay. Taylor played at the University of Miami, where he was an All-American in 2003, and was also a high school standout in the city. His father, Pedro Taylor, is the police chief of Florida City.
Known as one of the NFL's hardest hitters, Taylor played in his first Pro Bowl last season. He is tied for the NFC lead this season with five interceptions, despite missing the past two games with a sprained knee. He did not travel with the Redskins to a 19-13 loss Sunday at Tampa Bay because of the injury.
"We are numb right now," Washington wide receiver Keenan McCardell said.
Assistant coach Gregg Williams' voice cracked and his red eyes welled with tears as he spoke about Taylor.