Rock turns out to be bullet for 8-year-old

by Nickalas Tabbert

What eight-year-old Heather Cooper thought was a rock imbedded in her leg was actually a bullet. 

While walking with her family into an Afton church on March 10 she felt a sharp pain in her calf, saw blood and began to cry, the Star Tribune said.

"It hurt," she said.  "I though it was a rock or something like that."

Her parents, Shannon and Chet Cooper, took Heather to Woodwinds Hospital not knowing that a .223-caliber bullet had burrowed an inch into her flesh.

"When I got my X-rays, I heard them a little when they were looking at the picture, and I heard my dad say, 'Is that a bullet?'  And the nurse said, 'It is a bullet,'" the Oakdale girl said Tuesday, 10 days after she was shot.

Authorities said the accident may have involved two men shooting rifles on private land at least a mile from Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church on Hudson Road, said Dan Starry, Washington County chief deputy.  He said deputies are investigating why the men were shooting.

Shannon Cooper said they never heard any shots. Deputies told them the bullet may have come from the north, apparently crossing Interstate 94, she said.

Deputies have the bullet in their possession, the Tribune said.  The Minnesota Burueau of Criminal Apprehension is running ballistic tests to determine whether one of two rifles confiscated from two men, who were not identified, could have fired the round, Starry said.  The tests are not complete, but authorities are reasonably sure that's where it came from, he said.

"At this point, it does not appear that they've done anything wrong," he said.