Dramatis Personæ:Mrs. Anne L. Armstrong
, ranch owner, former US ambassador to the United Kingdom, Medal of Freedom winner, Bush Pioneer, not part of the hunting party. [Note, when the White House refers to Mrs. Armstrong, they mean Anne Armstrong.]Miss Katherine Armstrong
, daughter of Anne, lobbyist, Bush Pioneer, former chairwoman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, hunt guide, witness. [Note, she took back her maiden name after her divorce.]Pamela Pitzer Willeford
, US ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Bush Pioneer, hunter, witness.Harry Whittington
, attorney, presiding officer of the Texas Funeral Service Commission, Bush Pioneer, hunter, victim.
Richard Cheney, Vice President of the United States, hunter? suspect?Synopsis:
On Saturday afternoon, Miss Armstrong drove the three hunters out to an area on her mother's ranch where she suspected there would be quail. Using dogs she located two coveys of quail and told the hunters where the birds were.
The three hunters leave the vehicle, and flush quail from the first covey. Mr. Whittington felt he had killed at least one bird and proceeded to search for it, while Mr. Cheney and Ms. Willeford walked east [based on Ms. Willeford statement about the location of the sun] to the second covey.
Having completed his search, Mr. Whittington walked towards the other two hunters, in sight of the vehicle according to Miss Armstrong.
When Mr. Whittington was approximately 30 yards away, the second covey was flushed and Mr. Cheney took aim at a bird and following the flight fired his weapon, striking Mr. Whittington.Facts:
Mr. Cheney had a 28 gauge Perazzi shotgun and was using 7½ shot.
A standard ¾ ounce load of 7½ shot is 262 pellets.
Approximately 70% of the pellets from a 28 gauge shell will remain within a circle 30 inches in diameter at 30 yards.
According to reports from the hospital approximately 100 pellets
struck Mr. Whittington's face, neck, and torso with sufficient force to penetrate his outer clothing and penetrate his chest nearly to his heart.
This would indicate that Mr. Cheney discharged his weapon at a point approximately two feet from Mr. Whittington's head.
If he couldn't see Mr. Whittington's head, he certainly couldn't see a quail.Speculation:
Some of the quail from the first covey ran rather than taking flight. When Mr. Whittington was walking towards the other two hunters he flushed one or more of those birds. Mr. Cheney heard the birds fly up [the sound is distinctive], whirled and fired without getting a clear sight picture.
We don't know if drugs or alcohol were involved because local officials were blocked from interviewing Mr. Cheney for an extended period after the incident. Everyone said there was no chemical involvement, but they are friends and political allies of long standing.Conclusion:
Even accepting the witness statements as true, Mr. Cheney displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of others and caused a serious injury to another human being. At 6-foot, Mr. Whittington should have been clearly visible at a distance of 30 yards. Miss Armstrong stated that she saw him, but apparently made no effort to alert the other hunters.
The delays in reporting, and Cheney's failure to make himself available to local law enforcement, all argue for more of an investigation.