Girl hit by stray bullet while entering Afton churchAuthorities believe the bullet that hit the leg of an eight-year-old girl as she was walking into Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Afton Township, Minn., came from a .22 caliber rifle that two 20-year-old men were using for target-shooting.
Authorities believe the bullet that hit the leg of an eight-year-old girl as she was walking into Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Afton Township, Minn., came from a .22 caliber rifle that two 20-year-old men were using for target-shooting.
Heather Cooper of Oakdale, Minn., was hit by the bullet as she was about to enter the church with her family at about 5 p.m. Saturday, March 10.
“I kind of felt something in my leg and it really hurted,” the plucky girl told a WCCO-TV reporter in a segment that aired on the station’s Wednesday night, March 21, newscasts. “Then I pulled up my pants and saw an area where there was a whole bunch of blood.”
The girl’s parents took her to Woodwinds hospital in Woodbury, where X-rays revealed the bullet still in her leg, on the opposite side where it entered. It struck her a few inches above her ankle.
Washington County, Minn., Sheriff Bill Hutton told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday that he was pretty confident that his department had found the individuals and rifle involved in the shooting.
The St. Paul newspaper said the men were cooperating with authorities. Their rifles and ammunition had been, or were going to be, taken to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for ballistics testing.
Hutton said sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door around the church and used a neighborhood calling system find out where the bullet came from.
He didn’t know whether charges would be filed in connection with the shooting. Investigators were reviewing local ordinances and state laws, he told the Pioneer Press.
So far, authorities hadn’t found an intent by the men to harm anyone, the sheriff said.
Cooper appears to have fully recovered from the shooting. She has wounds on both sides of her lower leg – one where the bullet went in and the other where it was taken out – but was shown skipping about like a normal eight-year-old in the WCCO-TV story.
“I had lots of people saying how much they admired me and I’m such a brave girl,” she said in the TV interview.
“I feel very lucky and kind of brave.”
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran is located a short distance west of the I-94 St. Croix River bridge, on the south side of the freeway.