NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Knicks reserve forward Cleanthony Early was shot during an apparent holdup after leaving a Queens strip club early Wednesday morning.
The shooting happened around 4:30 a.m. after the 24-year-old Bronx native left the CityScapes Gentlemen’s Club on 58th Street and hailed an Uber cab, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
Moments later, as many as three vehicles boxed in the cab on Maurice Avenue. A group of armed and masked men got out and confronted Early, robbing him of his gold chains and gold caps on his teeth, Schuck reported.
Early was then shot in the leg, Schuck reported. He got back into the Uber car with the driver, and they went around the corner to 64th Street, where they started knocking on doors for help.
Witness Armand Czapkowski told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport he saw Early go to his neighbor’s door across the street and asked for help.
“The tall gentleman was shot in the leg and my neighbor was just trying to help him, he let him into the house,” he said. “It was madness in the middle of the night.”
The neighbor told him what early said.
“Yeah that they were, they were ambushed on Maurice Avenue. They got robbed, his cell phone, everything was stolen, that’s why they were looking for help,” Czapkowski said.
Early was taken to Elmhurst Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal Early was released Wednesday morning.
No arrests have been made.
Detectives wouldn’t say if Early was specifically targeted by the suspects, Rapoport reported.
“He was the victim of a robbery. That’s all we know at this time,” said the detective.
The Knicks released a statement saying: “We are aware of what occurred with Cleanthony Early this morning and are relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation. We will not comment any further until we receive more information.”
Early, who starred in college at Wichita State, was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. He has struggled to make an impact in the NBA, as he’s been shuttled back and forth between the Knicks and their Developmental League team in Westchester.
His teammates said they were thankful that what happened wasn’t any worse.
“It was just a shocking situation. An unfortunate situation,” Carmelo Anthony said.
“For sure, to know that he’s still here and doing relatively well, as well as you could be you know. I think we’ll take that,” Knicks Head Coach Derek Fisher said.
The Knicks had just come off a win Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The attack on Early comes about 10 days after Knicks forward Derrick Williams was robbed of $617,000 in jewelry from his home. He had taken home two women from a Manhattan club. Police are still looking for suspects.
Williams has declined to comment on the theft, but the case raised questions about whether NBA players should have a curfew like other professional sports. In April, Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, his girlfriend and another woman were stabbed following a late-night argument on the street near a Manhattan nightclub.
Fisher was asked about the policy at a news conference after Williams was robbed.
“I don’t really have to get into our policies of what you can and can’t do,” he told reporters last week. “We don’t have a curfew like in the NFL or other sports do on certain nights. It’s an unfortunate incident.”
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