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Girl mistaken for skunk shot by cousin

Published On: Oct 23 2012 09:15:55 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 23 2012 09:36:56 AM CDT

An 8-year-old girl was accidentally shot at a Halloween party in western Pennsylvania after a relative thought she was a skunk.

FREEDOM, Pa. -

An 8-year-old girl was critically wounded at a Halloween party in western Pennsylvania after her cousin mistook her for a skunk and accidentally shot her, Pittsburgh TV station WTAE reported.

New Sewickley Township police said the shooting happened about 10 p.m. Saturday during a Halloween bonfire.

According to police, the homeowner heard there was a skunk in the back yard and asked her 24-year-old son to shoot the animal while she used a flashlight to shine light over the hillside.

Chief Ronald Leindecker told WTAE the girl was mistaken for a skunk because she was wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel.

Her cousin fired the shotgun once, hitting the girl, police said.

"He is extremely devastated by the actions that took place. I mean, it's a tragic incident that occurred. It's not something that he dreamed would ever happen," Leindecker said.

Police said the girl was being treated in the garage of the home by family members and emergency responders when officers arrived.

The girl was flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she underwent surgery and remained in critical condition on Monday, police said.

New Sewickley police, along with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, are investigating and have not yet decided if charges will be filed.
"Personally, I wouldn't charge him. Because one mistake is probably all he'll ever make," neighbor James Brandenberger told WTAE.