A bullet fired from a police gun range hit a military veteran as he stood outside a car dealership almost a mile away, officials said.
“It felt like someone hit me with a ball bat or like a bird struck me in the side,” said Bill Bolechala, who had served 24 years in the military including a stint in Vietnam without being wounded.
“I was wiping my left side because it kind of hurt, and when I looked down, I had blood all over me,” he said.
Bolechala was treated at a hospital after being shot Tuesday and was released later in the day. He said the doctors left the bullet in his side, between his ribs and hip, but will remove it if the wound becomes infected.
Elk City Police Chief Bill Putnam said the bullet must have ricocheted off a metal frame that holds targets at the gun range. The range has a protective berm, but the bullet must have gone over it, he said.
“It was one of those fluke deals,” Putnam said Wednesday. “I’m glad he wasn’t hurt any worse than he was. We’ve been using that range for at least 30 years and we’ve never had a bullet get out of there and cause any damage.”
He said he plans to replace the metal target frames with wooden ones.
Bolechala, a city councilman from nearby Burns Flat, said he has no ill-will toward the police, who told him they will pay medical bills related to the shooting. He said he has no plans to sue.