Woman says stray bullet from shooting range grazed her head

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BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. (AP) — The family of a 65-year-old Washington state woman who was grazed in the head by a bullet says they can't prove it came from the neighboring shooting range, but a metal detector turned up more than a pound of bullets in their yard.

Linda Sperling, of Brush Prairie, is still recovering from a concussion. She considers herself lucky the bullet didn't do more damage when she was hit Jan. 26 while in her yard.

Sperling heard what sounded like an explosion, put her hand to her head and found blood on her gardening glove.

She was rushed to a hospital, where doctors told her a bullet had entered and exited her scalp, The Columbian reported Monday (http://bit.ly/16odywl).

"I didn't even realize I'd been shot," Sperling said. "What if it was a quarter-inch deeper?" she said.

Sperling's husband and son believe she was hit by a stray bullet from the Clark Rifles outdoor shooting range.

The gun club has two rifle ranges and a handgun range, according to its website. One of those 300-yard rifle ranges points toward the Sperlings' property.

Clark Rifles' vice president, Dave Christie, said there's no proof the bullet came from the range.

"We know about no rounds that left the range," he said.

Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Fred Neiman, meanwhile, called it an "unintended, unfortunate incident."

The Sperlings said the shooting range was somewhat dormant when they finished building their house in 1980, with shots heard every month or so. But around 1988, the shots became more frequent.

The rifle club already had a berm in place behind its targets and added a wooden backstop.

Even so, the Sperlings often have found bullets in their yard.

Their son Andy Sperling hired a metal detecting company in an effort to find the bullet that struck his mother. The search found more than a pound of bullets in the yard.

Linda Sperling's husband, Michael, spoke at a public hearing in 1988 on the gun club's license and was not opposed, although he said stray bullets went over his house.

Now his attitude has changed. "If that hadn't have happened, she wouldn't have been shot," Michael Sperling said.

The family is considering legal action and contacting government officials about their safety concerns.

Linda Sperling continues to suffer from memory and vision problems and a constant headache, the family said. She used to work in the yard daily.

"I haven't left the couch," she said. "I'm not a couch person."


Information from: The Columbian, http://www.columbian.com

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