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Stray Bullet Hits Woman In 31st Floor Apartment; Police Mystified

August 19, 1989

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A woman who was hit in the arm by a stray bullet while dining in a 31st- floor apartment says she’s uneasy the police haven’t got a clue to where the shot came from.

″I understand the police are terribly busy, and there’s a lot of crime going on,″ Gail Downward said last week. ″But someone out there has a gun ... that they are shooting randomly.″

Ms. Downward was eating in a friend’s top-floor apartment on chic Rittenhouse Square on Aug. 3 when she was hit.

″I had just taken a bite of grilled tuna when I heard a crack,″ she said. ″I had the fork in my hand, and when I tried to put it back on the plate, I realized my arm was not working properly.

″I looked down and saw a hole in my forearm about the size of a dime,″ she said. ″There was no blood, just a hole. I felt like I was part of a Salvador Dali painting.″

Police said the bullet went through a screen, a window, and a Venetian blind before it struck Ms. Downward in the right forearm. It was traveling on a level trajectory, which perplexes investigators because there aren’t any buildings nearby where a gunman could have fired a level shot into the window.

″We have no idea where this bullet came from,″ said Capt. Richard Kirchner. ″If you look out, the only thing in that area that’s really tall is the Arco burn-off tower″ two miles away.

There weren’t any shooting reports that coincided with the incident, Kirchner said.

Ms. Downward said police initially thought the bullet came from a high- powered rifle, but later said it may have from another kind of gun. Doctors haven’t removed the slug for fear of causing more damage to her arm.

″If the doctors ever decide to remove the bullet, we can run ballistics on it,″ Kirchner said. ″Then, one day, a gun could turn up and we could match it.″

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