OAKDALE, Minn. (WCCO) — An Oakdale mom says her 8-year-old daughter is lucky after she was shot in the leg on her way into church.

On March 10, 2012, Heather Cooper was walking with her family into Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Afton.

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Just before she walked in, she felt a sharp pain in her leg.

“Then I kind of felt something in my leg and it kind of really hurt, and I pulled up my pants and saw an area where there was a whole bunch of blood,” said Heather.

Instead of going to church, Shannon Cooper rushed her daughter to Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury — not knowing what kind of injury Heather had. That was until the X-rays came back.

“My husband looked at them and saw them first and said it looks like a bullet, we didn’t believe it. But the ER confirmed it was a bullet,” said Shannon.

Who the gunman is, however, remains a mystery. The church is in a rural part of Afton, so it’s hard to tell where the bullet came from. But Shannon and Heather believe it may have come from all the way on the other side of Interstate 94.

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There is no shooting range in the area.

Heather had two stitches where the bullet went in, and one where it almost came out. She was laid up for a couple days, but is fine now.

Her family jokes that some kids will do anything to get out of church, but in all seriousness, they feel lucky the bullet hit her where it did.

“I can’t really explain it, but it really, really hurt. I feel pretty lucky and kind of brave,” said Heather. “At school, one of the girls called me a pop star, and the priest told me I was a brave girl,” said Heather.

Investigators from Washington County believe this was not intentional, and was not shot from a passing car.
The bullet may have come from a .22 rifle.

Charges are possible if investigators find out the shooter was using the gun recklessly.

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Investigators told Heather she can have the bullet when they are done with their investigation.