Teen hit by flying bullet lives to tell survival story

CLEVELAND – Police believe that they are hot on the trail of the person who held the smoking gun that was used to shoot a 13-year-old boy caught in the crossfire of inner-city violence, Action News' Paul Orlousky reported.

The teen-ager, who was simply making a trip to a corner store, survived the shooting at the intersection of East 115th Street and Moulton Avenue and, on Thursday, told Action News his story.

Randall Pondexter, who was recovering at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital after surgery, will carry a bullet in his side for the rest of his life. It will forever be a reminder of a terror-filled 24 hours.

"As soon as I came out of the store, I started hearing gunshots," Randall said. "So, I turned around and looked, and I saw this dude shooting.

"There be a whole bunch of people selling drugs over there. There are a lot of them."

Randall lives in an area so tough that the corner store's safety glass is marked with bullet holes.

"There are drugs (being sold) on the corner, you know, all the time," neighborhood resident Luther Pettit said.

"It's my worst nightmare," Randall's mother, Rochele Pondexter, said. "I never thought something like this could happen to one of my kids."

Rochele spent most of Thursday tending to her son. Along with giving him plenty of TLC, she continually made him do breathing exercises to keep his lungs clear.

Exactly what went on at the street corner might never be known. What is known, however, is that three gangs compete for turf there. It's an area where the drug trade threatens everyone's safety.

"I walk my family back and forth around here to keep them safe," neighborhood resident Chuck Ray said. "I don't let them go to the corner themselves, especially my son."

Neighborhood residents said that senseless violence is nothing new where they live. They said that people are frequently getting beat up for no reason and that every time you walk down the street, you risk getting jumped.

Rochele said that she is just thankful Randall survived.

Randall should be in the hospital for only a couple of days, but he'll carry around the bullet as a reminder of his close call for a lifetime.