Philadelphia man who shot NFL running back in Elkins Park gets prison

Posted: November 05, 2010

The sound of gunshots might have faded from the memory of NFL running back Curtis Brinkley as he focuses on the football season, but his being shot was replayed Thursday in a Norristown courtroom.

Anthony Peterson Jr., 25, the boyfriend of Brinkley's sister, admitted that the three bullets he fired into a dark car in Elkins Park in July 2009 were meant for a man she was seeing - not Curtis Brinkley.

But two of the rounds struck the newly signed free agent for the San Diego Chargers in the shoulder as he waited for his sister to finish work at an adult day-care center, and forced him to fight back from what could have been a career-ending injury.

"You shot the wrong man," Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney John N. Gradel said to Peterson during the latter's sentencing in Montgomery County Court.

"Yes," Peterson said.

"When you fired, it was your intent to cause that man serious bodily injury," Gradel said.

"Yes," Peterson replied.

That was enough for Judge William R. Carpenter to sentence Peterson, of the 3600 block of 19th Street, Philadelphia, on one count each of attempted murder and aggravated assault, both first-degree felonies.

Although the sentence reads seven to 14 years in a state prison, Peterson will likely serve 11 years for the crime, Gradel said.

Jeff Azzarano, Peterson's Philadelphia attorney, did not return a phone call Thursday. His client has been held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility since his arrest Aug. 9, 2009, Gradel said.

Brinkley, a former star running back at West Catholic High School, rushed for 7,429 yards and 85 touchdowns. He finished his college playing career at Syracuse University as 15th all-time rusher there with 2,132 yards.

He had signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers on May 1, 2009, and participated in training camp. He was on a midsummer break to visit relatives in Philadelphia when the shooting occurred.

A bullet fragment is still lodged too close to his heart for surgery, and in August 2009 Brinkley could raise his right arm only chest-high.

Brinkley was placed on the reserve nonfootball injury list, and worked out with a private trainer, with the hope of rejoining the Chargers last December.

"I'm feeling good," Brinkley said at the time. "I'm doing the physical therapy right now."

He was activated on Feb. 8, according to the Chargers' website, and practiced with the team for the first time in May. On Sept. 2, he tumbled into the end zone to score a touchdown on a two-yard run during the third quarter of a preseason game in San Francisco. He has not played in a regular-season game.

Brinkley's aunt and publicist, Yolonda Brinkley, said her nephew didn't like to rehash the shooting, preferring to focus on his future with the team.

"He's been tight-lipped about the shooting because it shakes him up to talk about it," she said by phone from the West Coast.

Brinkley was practicing with the team Thursday and couldn't be reached immediately for comment, his aunt said.

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or

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