Ambush victim shot back to survive
Assailants flee after wounding a pistol-packing masonry company owner six times.
By DAVID MACAULAY | 247-7838
January 10, 2009
HAMPTON - When Robert Toombs returned to his Hampton home Monday night they were waiting for him in his yard.
The first bullet hit the 68-year-old masonry contractor in the back as he got out his key to open the door. He swung around and fired his own weapon at a shadowy figure wearing a hoodie in the yard.
By the time his attackers ran away, Toombs' body was riddled with six bullets.
But he survived the attack.
"All the bullets went in and came out. They missed the vital organs," Toombs' daughter Tina Dembry said Thursday.
Toombs, who was shot in his face, back, both legs and a hand, is recovering in a local hospital but is due to have surgery on his cheek where one of the gunshot wounds has caused swelling.
"He was hit six times," his son, Robert Toombs Jr., said.
Toombs' son and daughter said their father returned to his home on Shell Road near the intersection with Worster Street about 7:30 p.m. Monday. He parked his truck in the rear yard. He did not initially see his assailants because a number of vehicles are parked behind his home.
Toombs was hit by a bullet when he was about to unlock the back door.
But during the attack he fought back. Dembry said her father carries a .38 pistol with him for fear of robbery and it saved his life.
"He carries a weapon with him because he often does have money on him," she said.
Toombs is the owner of RA Toombs Masonry, a company that has been operating in Hampton for 34 years.
Dembry said her father believes he hit the only man he saw shooting at him.
"It's just a feeling he got," she said.
Neighbors told Dembry they saw four men fleeing from the scene.
Toombs' son and daughter don't know why their father was a target, but believe the men intended to kill him.
"It may have been a botched robbery," said Robert Toombs Jr.
Dembry said her father is tough even though he's 68 years old.
After he was shot he walked down the alley by his home to knock on the window and attract the attention of his wife, she said.
And Toombs insisted on walking into Hampton's Sentara CarePlex hospital, after his son drove him there. He was later transferred to Riverside Regional Medical Center, the Peninsula's trauma center.
Dembry said the community on Shell Road is shocked by the shooting.
"He's very lucky to be alive," she said.
Although police have no description of the suspects, his family believe a gun shot wound could lead to one of the attackers being caught.
"As far as the victim shooting back, that is a matter that is still under investigation," police spokeswoman Allison Good said. "There is no suspect description at this time."
Can you help?
Anyone with information about the shooting can call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).