Tuesday, June 26, 2001

NEWS - Fatal shooting at zoo no accident, Lansing police say - The victim had filed for divorce from her husband, a state trooper, last month.

Fatal shooting at zoo no accident, Lansing police say -
The victim had filed for divorce from her husband, a state trooper, last month.
The Grand Rapids Press. Michigan
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

LANSING -- The shot that killed the wife of a state trooper at the Potter Park Zoo over the weekend was not fired accidentally, Lansing police said.

Investigators have determined that the shot fired Saturday came from a rifle in a wooded area north of the zoo 's ticket booth, police Lt. Raymond Hall said Monday.

But police couldn't find the bullet that went through Bernita White , 41, of Eaton County's Delta Township.

"We're confident the shooter was a long distance away," Hall said. "Based on the trajectory of the bullet, we can rule out that the shot was fired in the air and randomly struck someone walking in the park .

"She was either chosen randomly or there's a person or persons with a motive and intended for her to be their target."

The bullet entered White 's arm, struck her heart and came out her right side, Ingham County interim medical examiner Dennis Jurczak said.

White was shot once just after 3:30 p.m. Saturday while walking with her daughter and friends from a picnic area toward the zoo 's ticket booth.

Witnesses reported hearing one or two shots, possibly from a wooded area north of the zoo entrance. No one reported seeing the shooter.

The zoo remained closed through the weekend as police searched for the bullet and other evidence. It reopened at 9 a.m. Monday.

A police officer has been assigned to patrol the zoo as a precaution. That will continue indefinitely, Hall said.

White 's husband, Artis White , is a state police detective sergeant. He had dropped off his wife and daughter earlier in the day and arrived half an hour after the shooting expecting to pick them up, police said.

About 10 p.m. Saturday, state police troopers in Detroit told White 's mother, Barbara Sims, 67, that her daughter had been shot and killed .

The Detroit-area woman died of a heart attack upon hearing the news, state police Capt. Jack Shepherd said. Artis White 's attorney, David Clark of Okemos, said Monday that Bernita White had filed for divorce last month, but the couple still lived together. They had two daughters.

Clark said he knows police are investigating his client.

"They tell us they're looking at all kinds of leads, but we know they're looking at him," he said. "But let me set it straight. He absolutely didn't do it."

Hall said Artis White has been cooperating with investigators.

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