Woman sure she was injured by real bullet at Wild West show

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2011 11:38 AM
Woman sure she was injured by real bullet at Wild West show

By Eric Johnson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The bullet that struck one of three tourists injured at a mock Wild West shootout six days ago was real, the victim said on Thursday, but how live ammunition was fired remains a mystery.

"I am confident it was a bullet," said 65-year-old Carrol Knutson from Birchwood, Minnesota, who was one of more than 100 people attending the regular tourist attraction in Hill City, South Dakota on Friday.

"I am recovering and feeling healthy," she told Reuters in a telephone interview. But neither Knutson nor investigators have determined why the bullet that pierced Knutson's calf was fired or who pulled the trigger.

"The shows have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," said Deputy Ron Nordell with the Pennington County Sheriff's Department. "The investigation is still ongoing."

No real bullets were recovered from the scene.

"All of our guns were using blanks, we are not allowed to bring live rounds to or around the show," said the Dakota Wild Bunch Re-enactors, the group who has put on the show in Hill City for four years, in a statement on their Facebook page. "We understand that three people were injured and our hearts go out to these people very much."

A doctor who operated on Knutson as well as 48-year-old John Ellis of South Connellsville, Pennsylvania, who was wounded in the arm, told investigators the wounds looked like bullet wounds, said Lieutenant Marty Graves of the Pennington County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators are awaiting the results from forensic labs who are analyzing the victims' clothing.

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

The third person 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.

"All they know is they were shot," the Dakota Wild Bunch Re-enactors said of the victims. "They don't know where it came from. Neither do we."

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.

"Our hope is that we will conclude the investigation shortly," Graves said, but allowed it could take weeks to conclude.

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