Corey Fuller's home invaded, gunshots exchanged

OWINGS MILLS – A masked man invaded veteran Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller's home in Tallahassee, Fla., early Wednesday morning. The assailant repeatedly fired a semi-automatic pistol at Fuller before and after breaking down the front door. The man fled after Fuller and a house guest returned fire. No one was harmed, according to police reports.

"If it is indeed a random act, that's scary to everybody that you can be vulnerable to something so random and so violent," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I've been trying to get in touch with Corey and we'll try to give him all the support we can. We're just grateful that there were no injuries or fatalities." 

Leon County Sheriff's Department Lt. Linda Butler said a robbery task force is actively searching for the suspect, who, if apprehended, would likely be charged with attempted murder, home invasion and robbery along with other possible offenses. The suspect was described as a slim black man between 5-foot-10 and 6-feet tall who was dressed completely in black, including a hood, face cover and gloves. "Nobody was hit even though there was a significant amount of gunfire, but we have no clue who the suspect is at this time," Butler said. "The house is filled with bullet holes. Mr. Fuller is fine. He's extremely lucky he wasn't hit." 

The incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when Fuller and a guest were retrieving something from a car. Butler said they were approached by a man emerging from a wooded area who ordered them to, "Get down on the ground." Instead, Fuller ran inside while dodging bullets. His friend escaped by fleeing down the street toward a neighbor's residence. The suspect proceeded to break down the door and pursue Fuller, a Tallahassee native who starred at Florida State and started 10 games for the AFC North champion Ravens this season. Another guest of Fuller's fired several rounds at the suspect, but missed, Butler said. During this exchange, Fuller opened his safe to get his firearms, including a.38 caliber revolver. 

Fuller chased the man out of his house and kept shooting at him, Butler said. Fuller apparently missed his target, Butler said. Butler said the man sped away in a dark-colored automobile that might be a Chevrolet Caprice, Impala or a Ford Crown Victoria. Fuller told the Associated Press that the man's accomplice was waiting in the getaway car. 

Fuller, 32, has previous stints with the expansion Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings and has played in the NFL for nine seasons since being drafted in the second round in 1995. Fuller offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. His younger brother, Fred Bates, was shot to death at age 18 in 1992, according to the Associated Press. "I've already lost one son," Alice Bates, Fuller's mother, told the Associated Press. "I don't want to lose another one." 

Ravens offensive guard Bennie Anderson was carjacked in St. Louis two years ago despite being 6-foot-5 and 345 pounds. Several players around the league have been victims of robberies in recent years. "They are high-profile because of the money they make and who they are," Billick said. "Players are at risk. We talk about them living in a predatory environment. "It's not something a lot of people give credence to because how good of a life that is: good-looking, making a lot of money. Look at Bennie, it doesn't matter how big they are. What happened to Corey is a scary thing." The home invasion was initially handled by Tallahassee Police investigators before the case was taken over by the robbery task force "It's a high-priority investigation," Butler said. "They're actively looking, but the lack of a positive identification makes it more difficult." 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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