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Florida mother shot by high-powered rifle used by men target practicing next door

The woman's three children were in the backyard with her when she was shot.

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A Florida mother of three is in the hospital, recovering from a serious gunshot wound received in her own backyard surrounded by her children. Sheriff's investigators said the shot came from the next-door property where four men were target shooting.

"I immediately knew I was shot. I think I screamed 'Oh man,' from the pain," Heather Sitton told sister station WPBF 25 News Investigative Reporter Terri Parker.

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"I screamed I was shot and a friend who was right there jumped on me to stop the blood," Sitton said.

Sitton, her three children, husband Jason and some friends had been saddling up their mule for a fun Sunday ride with the children when they started hearing gunshots. They weren’t too alarmed because they say people target shoot in that area frequently. However, Jason went over to another neighbor to try and find out where the shots were coming from and ask them to stop, but the target practice was coming from the east.

"There were actually four individuals that were target practicing that probably fired the round that hit the female victim," Martin County Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.

The men said they all took a turn firing the rifle and were aiming at paper targets in front of a five-foot-tall wooded berm but the bullet went over it and into the Sitton’s yard, according to Budensiek.

the sitton family
Sitton family photo

"This round traveled 900 feet — three football fields before hitting this female," Budensiek said.

The bullet went in Sitton’s right arm, shattered the bone, exited and then hit her clavicle and left arm. She said her 8-year-old daughter had just been standing in the bullet's path.

"She had just moved a minute prior to go stand by the mule so there’s no doubt in my mind that had she been standing there it would have hit her in the head for sure," Sitton said.

Budensiek said it's not illegal to target practice, and since the men all fired the rifle, it's impossible to know which of them fired the round that hit Sitton. While under investigation, no one has been charged at this time. Budensiek cautioned this is a good warning lesson.

"Once that bullet leaves the gun there is no turning back, and if you’re not responsible, bad things can happen," he said.