Police have no suspects in shooting

Updated: September 30, 2004, 11:18 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Denney won't complain about having to dress like a cheerleader again. The white go-go boots that went with the outfit might have prevented a bullet from seriously injuring his leg.

The rookie was hit in the right calf by a shot that came through the side of the Indians' bus in Kansas City late Wednesday as the team traveled to the airport after a victory over the Royals. The bullet caused only a flesh wound, probably because of the tough leather of the knee-high boot, Denney and his trainers said.

All of Cleveland's rookies were decked out in outrageous outfits on the bus, part of a hazing ritual. An Oklahoma native, Denney said his teammates told him to dress as a USC cheerleader because the Sooners are ranked second behind Southern California in The Associated Press college football poll.

"I've never been so glad to have a USC thing on," Denney said Thursday at a news conference in Minneapolis, where the Indians traveled for a weekend series against the Twins.

Kevin Hallinan, senior vice president of security for the commissioner's office, met with Kansas City police Thursday regarding the shooting, which happened as the bus traveled along a highway ramp.

Hallinan said the shooting appeared to be random, and that police had no suspects.

"It's a random act. These situations happen, unfortunately in this day and age, a little too often," he said, adding he doesn't think there was anything major league baseball could've done to prevent the incident.

Team trainers removed the bullet from Denney's leg while he was still on the bus, and he stayed overnight at a Kansas City hospital before rejoining his team.

"The way he handled the situation was pretty awesome," said outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who was sitting across the aisle from Denney and was grazed by debris. "Now I know the guy can pitch in the big leagues, 'cause he got shot by a bullet and was about as calm as can be."

Indians spokesman Bart Swain said there was momentary panic on the bus before teammates realized Denney wasn't seriously hurt, and Ludwick said that's when "a lot of jokes started flying."

The 27-year-old Denney, who started Wednesday night's game against the Royals, said he hopes the shooter realizes the consequences could have been much worse.

"I thought it was just another prank, like a firecracker or something," Denney said. "I didn't know I was shot until I saw the blood."

After getting called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Sept. 14, Denney is 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts with Cleveland. He beat Kansas City 8-3 on Sept. 19 for his first major league win.

Kansas City Police Sgt. Tony Sanders said the shooting was reminiscent of one in June 2000, when someone fired three shots into Kauffman Stadium, one of which hit a woman who was watching a game between the Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. One of the bullets hit a seat in the upper deck of the stadium, while the other struck the back of the scoreboard.

"That was a random shooting," Sanders said. "We want to hope this is a random act."

In the 2000 shooting, a bullet passed through Virginia Olsthoorn's abdomen and lodged in her left elbow while she sat in the stadium's lower level, along the right field line.

Though team officials insisted the shot came from outside of the stadium -- most likely from a passing vehicle on I-70 or an area north of the highway -- Olsthoorn sued the Royals for not ensuring nobody at the stadium had a gun.

The team, denying responsibility, reached a confidential settlement with the woman in June 2001. Nobody was ever arrested.

He said a number of people have called police with tips, but no solid suspects have been identified. Kansas City has its share of drive-by shootings, but not usually along the interstate, he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press