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Times reporter shot in attempted robbery

Marcus Franklin was treated and released from a Baton Rouge hospital today after doctors decided removing the bullet was too risky.

Published September 6, 2005

A St. Petersburg Times reporter covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was shot and wounded late Monday night in Baton Rouge.

Marcus Franklin, 34, was treated and released from Baton Rouge General Hospital today after doctors decided removing the bullet was too risky at this point.

Franklin said he had been up since before daybreak reporting on people returning to their homes in Jefferson Parish near New Orleans. After filing his report, Franklin headed to a Baton Rouge motel to spend the night after spending four nights in his car.

He said he was driving on Interstate 110 in Baton Rouge when he discovered he was heading the wrong direction, so he got off. He had been driving with the air conditioning off and the windows down to save gas.

About 11:30 p.m., while trying to get back onto the interstate, Franklin stopped at a stop sign at a poorly lit intersection in a residential area.

"I didn't hear footsteps or anything," Franklin said. Suddenly, he heard a man say, "How much money you got?"

The man tried opening the passenger door of Franklin's rental car. That's when the reporter said he realized the man was holding a black revolver.

"I looked at the gun sort of in disbelief," Franklin said. He hit the gas to get away. "That's when I heard a pop...It sounded like the proverbial firecracker."

Franklin said he drove off quickly, then checked himself for wounds. He spotted blood on his shirt and discovered he had been shot in the stomach. He called 911 on his cell phone and police and emergency medical technicians showed up.

He was taken by ambulance to Baton Rouge General hospital, where he was kept overnight. A Baton Rouge police officer drove his rental car to the hospital, Franklin said. Upon his release from the hospital Tuesday, the Times chartered an air ambulance to fly him back to St. Petersburg.

A native of Detroit and a graduate of Wayne State University, Franklin has been a general assignment reporter for the Times for nearly three years.

Baton Rouge lies about 90 miles north of New Orleans. When thousands of New Orleans residents fled their city before and after the hurricane, many headed for Baton Rouge, swelling the population of the state capital beyond its usual 260,000.

Since then there have been widespread rumors of an increase in assaults and rapes. Last week Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin "Kip" Holden warned that he would not tolerate "lawlessness" from the evacuees.

But the Washington Post has reported that police officials say the crime rate is about the same as before the storm.

-- Times staff researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this story.

[Last modified September 6, 2005, 17:44:10]

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