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Published: 7/6/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Toledoan, 92, mistakenly shoots officer

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Annie Huddleston shot at  Toledo police Lt. Randy Pepitone with a .357 Magnum, wounding him. Annie Huddleston shot at Toledo police Lt. Randy Pepitone with a .357 Magnum, wounding him.
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Toledo police Lt. Randy Pepitone wanted to make sure Annie Huddleston was all right inside her central Toledo home.

Ms. Huddleston thought the man outside prying open her front door lock Thursday was a burglar.

Just as Lieutenant Pepitone was opening the door, Ms. Huddleston, 92, steadied in her hand her late husband's .357 Magnum revolver, and pulled the trigger just once.

The bullet blasted through a wall hitting the 54-year-old lieutenant in the side of the head.

"All of a sudden there was a loud explosion right next to my ear and I went down," the lieutenant said. "I could taste the blood, I saw it dripping on the porch, and then saw the bullet hole."

The lieutenant said he knew the wound was superficial so he crawled across the porch and jumped over the railing where he was treated by firefighters already on scene.

The crew took Lieutenant Pepitone to Toledo Hospital where he was treated and released.

Police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said Ms. Huddleston will not be charged with the shooting because "I don't think it meets all the culpability standards for felonious assault on a police officer."

Sergeant Heffernan said the department confiscated Ms. Huddleston's gun on Thursday morning.

"Lieutenant Pepitone is very lucky," Sergeant Heffernan said. "Another centimeter over and it could have been a very different story."

Lt. Randy Pepitone Lt. Randy Pepitone
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The incident occurred after Ms. Huddleston called 911 after hearing what she thought was a burglar outside of her home about 12:30 Thursday morning.

Sitting in her living room, she tapped her hand on her chest Thursday afternoon to demonstrate how quickly her heart was beating while she waited for police earlier that day.

When dispatchers put the call out to police crews, the lieutenant was already nearby, patrolling at Woodland and Junction avenues, and routed himself to the home.

After doing a perimeter check and finding no signs of anyone trying to break in and after trying to contact Ms. Huddleston with no response, the lieutenant sent other officers to the back of the house while he forced entry.

That's when Ms. Huddleston fired the gun.

"It was a little intense at first," the lieutenant said. "I didn't know if a bad guy had broken in and was firing at us."

The lieutenant said he planned on returning to work for his normal 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift Thursday, but a headache kept him home. He did say the early-morning incident was a "close call," but it's not the first time he's been shot at.

In 1994, he was shot at by a known gang member who the lieutenant was chasing after seeing the suspect in a stolen car, not knowing the suspect had just committed an armed robbery.

The suspect ditched the car and ran on foot, eventually exchanging gunfire with the officer and managing to get away.

Months later, the suspect was caught.

The lieutenant said that, even after being shot at, he wouldn't consider giving up the job. The 28-year veteran loves it too much.

"I was ready to come back to work [Thursday night.] ... I've got 2 1/2 years left and I'm trying to get as much fun out of it as I can," he said.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @tdungjen_Blade.



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