North Pole girl dies after shooting mishap

Posted: Tuesday, July 09, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A 16-year-old North Pole girl died after being shot in the head by a 27-year-old man authorities say was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Alaska State Troopers said Jenny Cullen was shot about 1:45 a.m. Monday in the man's trailer home. She was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where she died late Monday night, a nursing supervisor said.

Troopers had not released the name of the shooter by late Tuesday morning but said he faces various charges.

The man was under the influence of alcohol and handling his .357-caliber revolver when he unintentionally shot Cullen in the lower left side of the head, according to troopers.

Cullen, the shooter and four others, including juveniles, were at the man's home at the time, said Investigator Sgt. Ron Wall. Some were in other rooms, getting ready for bed, when the shooting occurred, Wall said.

Wall said the bullet entered the girl's head through her left ear at a distance of no more than 10 feet.

Investigators were still trying to determine what he was doing with the gun, according to Wall. He said the gun is usually secured in the house, Wall said.

''He wasn't threatening any one with it,'' Wall told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''He just had it out.''

However, the man knew the gun was loaded, Wall said.

Wall didn't know if Cullen had been drinking, but said people were there watching television and talking that night. He said someone made the 911 call for help from a cell phone because the residence northeast of North Pole doesn't have a phone.

Among charges the shooter faces are manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

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