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Driver hit by gunfire on I-81 in W.Va.

November 29, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An unknown gunman, possibly a hunter, shot a Ranson, W.Va., man driving on Interstate 81 Friday morning, said West Virginia State Police.

Brent Smoot, 20, was listed in good condition at City Hospital near Martinsburg, a hospital official said.

Smoot was driving north at about the 15 mile marker of I-81 when a bullet entered the right rear panel of the car, said Trooper David Boober.

The round went through the car's bucket seat and into the back of Smoot's right shoulder, Boober said.

The round exited through Smoot's upper right arm, the trooper said.

The bullet also caused shrapnel to fly into the back of Smoot's neck, Boober said.

Boober was on patrol on the interstate when he spotted a car pulled off to the shoulder of the road.

The man was covered with blood and waving for the trooper to pull over, Boober said.

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The shooting occurred about 9:15 a.m. Friday.

The trooper called for an ambulance. Police also called for a helicopter from the Maryland State Police to fly over an area of fields and woods along the highway where they believed the shot had been fired, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. J.A. Humphrey.

Police also found two men who said they had been hunting in the area, Boober said.

The two were questioned and information will be passed on to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Police to continue the investigation, Boober said.

The caliber of the rifle was unknown and will be tested by ballistics experts, Humphrey said.

Deer hunting season with rifles and shotguns is under way, Boober said.

If Friday's shooting is found to be hunting related, it would be the second hunting accident in Berkeley County over the holiday weekend, Boober said.

A Berkeley County man accidentally shot off a toe with his shotgun, despite the fact that the weapon's safety was on, Boober said.

The man was hunting in the Shanghai area and was carrying the weapon with a shoulder strap, Boober said.

A DNR police officer checked the firearm and discovered the safety was still on, which is supposed to keep the weapon from firing accidentally, Boober said.

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