Were three tourists gunned down at a Wild West show?

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 22, 2011 12:24 PM
Were three tourists gunned down at a Wild West show?

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Three days after a mock Wild West shootout in Hill City, South Dakota ended with three tourists wounded, authorities were still trying on Monday to determine if some real bullets were fired by mistake.

Three spectators were hospitalized on Friday evening after receiving "wounds that were consistent with bullet-type injuries," Lieutenant Marty Graves of the Pennington County Sheriff's Department told Reuters.

The guns used in the show were supposed to be loaded with fake bullets known as blanks, Graves said. No real bullets or bullet fragments were recovered from the scene.

But a doctor who operated on the two most seriously wounded tourists -- 65-year-old Carrol Knutson of Birchwood, Minnesota with a leg wound and 48-year-old John Ellis of South Connellsville, Pennsylvania with a calf injury -- told investigators they looked like bullet wounds.

Also injured was 52-year-old Jose Pruneda of Alliance, Nebraska, who received a superficial wound to his shoulder, Graves said.

All three were in "fair" condition on Saturday and have since been released from Rapid City Regional Hospital, Graves said.

Graves hopes forensic analysis of the victims' clothing will provide answers.

"A forensic lab can look at the shapes in the clothing to determine what went through," Graves said.

Confused also was show videographer Phyllis Masten.

"It was the end of the show and the two behind me had started yelling that they were shot and then blood started spraying out everywhere," Masten told a local ABC affiliate.

"No definitive conclusion has been determined by the investigation," Graves said. "Our hope is that we will conclude it shortly."

(Reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Greg McCune)