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Sheehy apologized and asked for leniency after alleged 2015 gun incident

Republican
Senate
candidate
Tim
Sheehy
apologized
and
asked
for
leniency
in
2015
after
he
said
a
gun
he
kept
in
his
vehicle
for
bear
protection
fell
and
discharged,
striking
him
in
his
right
forearm
in
Glacier
National
Park,
according
to
new
National
Park
Service
documents
released
through
a
Freedom
of
Information
Act
request.

The
new
documents,
which
provide
additional
detail
about
an
incident

first
reported
by
The
Washington
Post
this
month
,
include
a
detailed
written
statement
from
Sheehy
to
a
law
enforcement
officer
regarding
Sheehy
having
accidentally
shot
himself
on
Oct.
18,
2015

an
account
that
he
now
says
was
a
lie.

“As
a
highly
trained
and
combat
experienced
wounded
veteran,
I
can
assure
you
this
was
an
unfortunate
accident
and
we
are
grateful
no
other
persons
or
property
were
damaged,”
Sheehy,
a
former
Navy
SEAL,
said
in
the
2015
statement
apologizing
for
illegally
discharging
his
weapon
in
the
park.
“Due
to
my
ongoing
security
clearance
and
involvement
with
national
defense
related
contracts,
I
request
leniency
with
any
charges
related
to
this
unfortunate
accident.”

Sheehy,
who
has
told
voters
he
has
a
bullet
in
his
arm
from
his
time
serving
in
Afghanistan,
told
The
Post
he
made
up
the
2015
accidental
gunshot
story
on
that
October
day
to
cover
up
a
wound
he
says
he
received
in
a
2012
firefight
in
Afghanistan.

A
National
Park
Service
summary
of
the
incident,
which
was
also
included
in
the
newly
released
documents,
says
an
unidentified
park
visitor
reported
an
accidental
gun
discharge
in
Logan
Pass.
That
differs
from
Sheehy’s
current
account,
that
law
enforcement
was
first
contacted
by
personnel
at
a
hospital
that
treated
him
for
wounds
that
he
now
says
he
received
from
falling
during
a
hike.
The
summary
does
not
identify
the
park
visitor
who
made
the
report
of
a
gun
discharge.

Sheehy,
a
decorated
war
veteran,
is
favored
to
win
the
GOP
nomination
to
take
on
the
vulnerable
Sen.
Jon
Tester
(D-Mont.)
in
the
red
state,
which
is
key
to
Republicans’
plan
to
take
control
of
the
chamber.

The
Park
Service
documents
about
the
incident
add
to
another
record
of
the
episode,
filed
in
U.S.
District
Court
for
the
District
of
Montana,
which
said
Sheehy
told
a
ranger
that
he
accidentally
shot
himself
in
the
right
arm
that
day
when
his
Colt
.45
revolver
fell
and
discharged
while
he
was
loading
his
vehicle
in
the
park.
He
went
to
the
hospital
in
Kalispell
to
treat
his
wounded
arm,
the
records
say,
and
first
spoke
to
the
ranger
who
responded
to
the
incident
there.

Sheehy
said
in
his
2015
statement
that
a
weapon
kept
in
the
vehicle
for
bear
protection
had
been
improperly
placed
and
fell
out
when
he
was
reloading
his
SUV.
“My
deepest
apologies
for
any
inconvenience
this
incident
caused,”
Sheehy
said
in
the
statement.

In
The
Post
story
published
this
month,
however,
Sheehy
says
that
his
gunshot
wound
that
day
was
old,
not
fresh,
and
that
he
sought
medical
attention
because
he
fell
during
a
hike
and
feared
he
had
dislodged
a
bullet
in
his
arm
from
Afghanistan
that
he
had
never
reported
to
his
superiors,
for
fear
of
sparking
an
investigation
into
its
origins.
Sheehy
said
he
believed
the
bullet
may
have
been
the
result
of
a
friendly
fire
ricochet
during
a
nighttime
firefight
in
April
or
May
of
2012.

Sheehy
also
told
The
Post
said
that
hospital
staff
told
him
they
were
required
to
report
the
gunshot
wound
to
authorities
and
so
he
decided
to
lie

first
to
hospital
staff
and
then
to
the
ranger

to
ensure
the
story
of
his
older
wound
wouldn’t
trigger
a
military
investigation
that
could
harm
his
former
platoonmates’
careers,
according
to
his
campaign
and
an
attorney
representing
him.

“I
guess
the
only
thing
I’m
guilty
of
is
admitting
to
doing
something
I
never
did,”
Sheehy
said
of
paying
a
$525
fine
for
illegally
discharging
his
weapon
in
the
national
park.
He
now
says
the
gun
never
went
off.

The
ranger’s
report
says
“a
park
visitor
called
park
dispatch”
to
report
an
accidental
gun
discharge
at
Logan
Pass
that
day.
The
ranger
was
headed
to
Logan
Pass
to
investigate
the
report
from
that
unnamed
visitor
when
park
dispatch
informed
him
that
the
person
who
fired
the
gun
was
at
the
Kalispell
emergency
room
with
a
gunshot
wound,
the
report
said.
The
ranger
drove
there
instead.

A
lawyer
for
Sheehy,
Daniel
Watkins,
called
into
question
the
existence
of
the
park
visitor,
stating
in
a
letter
that
the
ranger
never
indicated
that
he
interviewed
that
person
as
part
of
his
report.
Watkins
posited
that
hospital
staff,
not
a
park
visitor,
notified
park
dispatch
that
Sheehy
had
shot
himself
at
Logan
Pass

after
he
lied
to
them

and
that
park
dispatch
later
“clarified”
to
the
ranger
that
the
person
was
already
at
the
hospital.

The
Park
Service
has
not
released
a
copy
of
the
dispatch
logs
from
that
day.
Many
Park
Service
records
are
retained
for
only
five
years.

Hospital
officials
have
declined
to
comment
on
the
specific
incident.
A
spokeswoman
said
the
hospital
follows
Montana
state
law
requiring
them
to
report
gunshot
and
stabbing
victims
to
the
police.
The
campaign
said
this
month
that
Sheehy
was
attempting
to
obtain
medical
records
from
his
ER
visit
that
day.
Asked
last
week
about
whether
he
had
received
his
medical
records,
the
campaign
declined
to
comment
and
directed
The
Post
to
Sheehy’s
lawyer.

“The
released
reports
corroborate
the
information
we
have
provided,
and
they
confirm
Mr.
Sheehy’s
recollection
of
what
took
place,”
Watkins
wrote.

The
ranger
wrote
in
the
newly
released
report
that
when
he
spoke
to
Sheehy
at
the
hospital,
Sheehy
said
he
was
“well
aware
of
the
other
possible
outcomes
of
a
weapon
firing
accidentally”
and
paid
the
$525
fine
for
discharging
his
weapon
with
no
qualms.

Sheehy
also
informed
the
ranger
that
he
had
been
a
Navy
SEAL
and
had
been
shot
before,
the
ranger’s
report
said.

Sheehy
has
offered
varying
accounts
of
how
many
times
he
was
shot
while
serving
and
under
what
circumstances.
In
his
2023
memoir,
“Mudslingers,”
Sheehy
wrote
in
one
passage
that
he
received
multiple
bullet
wounds
in
Afghanistan.
In
another,
he
wrote
that
his
body
was
hit
by
a
bullet
just
once.
In
the
book,
he
also
offers
varying
accounts
of
how
he
was
shot.

In
one
such
account,
Sheehy
writes
that
he
didn’t
report
being
struck
by
a
ricochet
bullet
because
it
was
caused
by
friendly
fire
and
he
didn’t
want
the
“total
stud”
who
shot
him
to
get
into
trouble.
He
now
says
he
does
not
know
for
sure
if
he
was
wounded
by
friendly
or
enemy
fire,
and
that
there
was
not
one
particular
person
he
believed
could
have
been
responsible.

Sheehy
was
awarded
a
Bronze
Star
with
“V”
for
Valor
and
a
Purple
Heart
for
two
separate
incidents
during
his
time
serving
as
a
SEAL
in
Afghanistan.
The
Purple
Heart
was
awarded
after
he
was
knocked
unconscious
by
an
improvised
explosive
device
blast,
according
to
a
local
news
report.

A
former
teammate
recalled
Sheehy
saying
he
was
struck
by
a
ricochet
bullet
while
they
were
serving
together
in
2012.
That
person,
who
was
interviewed
at
the
request
of
the
Sheehy
campaign,
spoke
on
the
condition
of
anonymity
because
he
is
a
military
reservist
and
said
he
was
not
authorized
to
talk
to
the
media.
Other
service
members
who
served
with
Sheehy
in
Afghanistan
either
declined
to
comment
or
could
not
recall
him
discussing
a
gunshot
wound.

Watkins,
Sheehy’s
lawyer,
previously
argued
Sheehy
could
not
have
accidentally
discharged
the
Colt
.45
by
dropping
the
gun
in
2015
because
“doing
so
is
not
possible
based
on
the
design
of
the
weapon’s
firing
mechanism.”

Rick
Vasquez,
a
firearms
expert
and
former
Bureau
of
Alcohol,
Tobacco,
Firearms
and
Explosives
official,
said
it
would
indeed
be
“very
unlikely”
for
that
weapon
to
misfire
when
dropped
as
Sheehy
told
the
ranger.

Sheehy
has

campaigned
in
part
on
his
experience
as
a
combat
veteran
,
saying
the
Biden
administration’s
chaotic
withdrawal
from
Afghanistan
in
2021
inspired
him
to
run.

Sheehy
was
handpicked
to
run
by
Sen.
Steve
Daines
(R-Mont.),
the
National
Republican
Senatorial
Committee
chair
who

helped
to
effectively
clear
the
primary
field

for
the
wealthy
businessman
and
veteran
who
he
believed
was
best
positioned
to
defeat
Tester.
Rep.
Matt
Rosendale
(R-Mont.)
dropped
out
of
the
race
in
February
following
former
president
Donald
Trump’s
endorsement
of
Sheehy.

Daines
and
other
prominent
Montana
Republicans
defended
Sheehy
last
week
following
the
initial
Post
report.

Daines
said
veterans
in
the
state
are
“outraged”
by
news
coverage
of
the
incident
that
he
described
as
attacking
an
“American
hero.”

“Tim
Sheehy
is
only
strengthening,”
he
said.
“The
guy
is
a
Purple
Heart
American
war
hero.”

Daines
said
it
was
up
to
Sheehy
whether
he
should
release
the
medical
records
from
the
hospital.

“That’s
his
decision
to
sort
that
out,”
Daines
said
of
whether
to
release
medical
records.

Rep.
Ryan
Zinke
(R-Mont.),
who
is
also
a
former
Navy
SEAL
and
Sheehy
supporter,
noted
that
Sheehy
already
has
a
Purple
Heart
from
a
separate
action
in
Afghanistan
and
that
he
believed
veterans
and
service
members
would
not
have
any
concerns
about
the
story.
Zinke
said
it
was
Sheehy’s
decision
whether
to
release
his
records
from
his
ER
visit.

“I
released
my
entire
record
and
they
were
shocked
on
what
an
outstanding
record
looks
like,”
Zinke
said
of
his
2014
House
race,
when
he
released
military
records
after
facing
questions
about
his
years
serving
in
SEAL
Team
6.

While
Daines
and
other
Republicans
backed
Sheehy,
some
have
said
the
story
has
exacerbated
tensions
among
Rosendale
supporters
in
the
state
who
resented
Rosendale’s
exit
from
the
Senate
race.

Rosendale
lost
to
Tester
in
2018
but
nonetheless
had
a
passionate
following
among
some
grass-roots
conservatives
in
Montana.

“There
was
a
lot
of
hostility
from
Rosendale
supporters
toward
Sheehy
and
these
kinds
of
stories
about
Sheehy
are
not
going
to
help
heal
that
rift,”
said
Matthew
Monforton,
a
former
Republican
member
of
the
Montana
state
legislature
who
broke
with
the
party
and
is
now
a
libertarian.
“There’s
a
real
fear
that
Sheehy
was
not
vetted
well.”

Brad
Johnson,
the
former
secretary
of
state
of
Montana
and
Sheehy
challenger
in
the
June
Republican
primary,
slammed
Sheehy
in
a
statement
provided
to
a
local
TV
outlet.
“This
is
what
you
get
when
a
couple
of
DC
insiders
like
Mitch
McConnell
and
Steve
Daines
anoint
an
unknown,
untested
and
unvetted
candidate
and
then
dictate
to
Montana
Republicans
who
their
nominee
to
the
United
States
Senate
is
going
to
be,”
he
said.


Leigh
Ann
Caldwell
contributed
to
this
report.

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