Doctor Says Christopher Rodriguez Faces ‘a Tough Road’

Bay City News
Tuesday January 22, 2008

Christopher Rodriguez, a 10-year-old Oakland boy who likely will be partially paralyzed for the rest of his life after being struck by a stray bullet while taking a piano lesson, “has a rough road in the future,” Dr. Jacob Neufeld said last week. 

Neufeld, a pediatric physician at Children’s Hospital Oakland, where Christopher is in fair condition in the intensive care unit following the shooting incident at a music school on Jan.10, said Christopher will remain hospitalized indefinitely and then will undergo therapy aimed at teaching him how do things on his own. 

The goal is for Christopher, a fifth-grader at Crocker Highlands Elementary School in Oakland, “to be a fully independent young man again,” said Neufeld, who was joined by boy’s parents at a news conference at the hospital to provide an update on his condition.  

In response to a reporter’s question, Jennifer Rodriguez, Christopher’s mother, said, “As a parent, of course you wish for a miracle because you have to have hope.” 

She said, “You always hope for a miracle because otherwise you won’t get through the day.” 

Richard Rodriguez, the boy’s father, was more glum, saying, “What can you say when your son has been shot and never will walk again?” 

Rodriguez said, “All the possibilities and dreams he (Christopher) had have to be changed. It’s a different world.” 

Jennifer Rodriguez said that when Christopher leaves the hospital, the family, which currently lives in a house with stairs, will have to move to a new residence that’s handicapped accessible and get a van in which to transport him.  

Richard Rodriguez said, “As a result of his injuries, we don’t have time to work, so funds are needed for a lot of things.”  

He said Christopher is starting to ask questions about what happened to him, at one point asking why he was shot in the back and whether the shooter was trying to kill him. 

Rodriguez said that when he told his son he thinks the shooting was accidental, Christopher said, “I feel much better.”  

Neufeld said the bullet went through Christopher’s left side and ripped through his kidney, spleen and spinal cord, causing paralysis below his waist. However, he said the boy “has full strength in his upper extremities” and is able to play video games while he’s in the hospital. 

Neufeld said Christopher’s injuries have affected his bowel and bladder, so he can’t eat normal food at this point and suffers from a low-grade fever.  

According to Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren, the bullet that injured Christopher was from one of several shots fired during a robbery attempt at a Chevron gas station at 4400 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley Road about 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 10. It traveled across the street and into the Harmony Road Music School, where he was taking a lesson.  

Several police officers were completing a traffic accident investigation in the area when they heard the gunshots from the robbery and citizens directed them to the suspects’ vehicle, which was speeding away from the scene, according to Holmgren. The officers chased the vehicle as it sped west on Pleasant Valley Road, continuing to the intersection of 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue, where it struck another vehicle and a parked car, Holmgren said.  

The driver, 24-year-old Jared Adams of Oakland, was detained by officers as he attempted to flee on foot, Holmgren said.  

Witnesses identified Adams as the robber and the shooter and officers arrested him for multiple felony charges, according to Holmgren. He said Adams has a prior criminal record, including a prior gun conviction. Holmgren said the passenger of the vehicle was identified as Maeve Clifford, who also was arrested.  

Adams has been charged with willful, deliberate and premeditated murder, robbery, evading a police officer and being an ex-felon in possession of a gun. He could face life in prison if he’s convicted. Clifford is charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.  

Donations can be made to a trust account at Wells Fargo Bank: Christopher G. Rodriguez, Trust Account No. 7013202606, Piedmont Avenue Branch, 151 40th St., Oakland, 94611.  

People who want updates on Christopher’s condition can go to www.christopherrodriguez.blog.spot.com.  

Jennifer Rodriquez said Christopher had been a piano student since October of 2006 and also played the drums, performing in a concert at Yoshi’s jazz club in Oakland in December.  

She said Harmony Road will sponsor a benefit concert for Christopher at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland on Feb. 10.