staff and news service reports
updated 11/17/2010 7:11:32 AM ET 2010-11-17T12:11:32

Authorities are trying to determine how twin sisters from Australia were both shot in the head at a Colorado shooting range — and which sister died and which is critically injured.

The 29-year-old women sustained gunshot wounds at an outdoor shooting range at Cherry Creek State Park south of Denver on Monday. Investigators haven't been able to talk to the survivor, who is in critical but stable condition in an area hospital.

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The incident has left investigators and family members with many unanswered questions.

"Every time I get new information there's a new twist," Arapahoe County Sheriff's Capt. Louie Perea told The Denver Post. "We're keeping an open mind."

Perea said Tuesday the twins' family in Australia has been notified, but their names haven't been released because investigators don't know which sister died. The coroner is trying to identify the sister who died through fingerprints and dental records, Perea said.

Investigators are trying to determine how both women were shot in the head. They aren't looking for any suspects. They're trying to sort out whether the shootings were accidental or intentional.

"Everything's on the table," Perea said. No suicide note was found, he added.

Authorities are not searching for suspects, and deputies said they're proceeding with the case as a death investigation as opposed to a homicide probe, NBC station KUSA-TV reported.

No indication of trouble
The women were in the United States on cultural exchange visas. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said one of the women was due to leave Tuesday, according to Perea.

It wasn't clear when the other woman was set to return home.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that the twins were from Victoria state in southeast Australia. Officials with the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles were in close contact with authorities in Colorado and providing assistance to the family in Australia, KUSA reported.

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Perea said investigators aren't sure who fired the gun or guns, or whether the same bullet hit both sisters, who were in the same shooting lane. The sisters had taken a taxi to the range and had been there for more than an hour when they were shot.

The sisters had a small-caliber weapon at one of the lanes where shooters line up behind a wooden wall and shoot through an opening that resembles a window, Perea said. There was no apparent indication of a dispute between the sisters.

Surveillance cameras captured images of both women falling backwards at the same time at approximately 2:50 p.m. MT (4:50 p.m. ET) Monday, the Post reported, adding that the video did not show anyone else entering or leaving the stall.

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Video also showed patrons' reactions to the shooting; one notified range officials of the incident.

Range owner Doug Hamilton told the Post that the women showed no outward signs of trouble or duress when they arrived at the shooting range.

The range was open Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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