Tuesday, June 26, 2001

NEWS - Mother dies when told of daughter's shooting at Michigan zoo

Mother dies when told of daughter's shooting at Michigan zoo
By Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. -- A state trooper's wife visiting a crowded zoo with her daughter was killed by a rifle shot fired from a nearby wooded area. Her mother died of a heart attack when she was told of the shooting.

The trooper's lawyer acknowledged his client is under investigation in the shooting but said he wasn't involved.

Bernita White, 41, was shot once in the heart Saturday while walking with her daughter and friends at the Potter Park Zoo. There were hundreds of people in the park, and witnesses reported hearing one or two shots although no one reported seeing the shooter, police said.

White's mother, Barbara Sims, 67, died of a heart attack when she was told of her daughter's death, police said.

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

White had filed for divorce from her husband last month, although the couple still lived together, said his attorney, David Clark.

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

Artis White has been cooperating with investigators, Lansing police Lt. Raymond Hall said.

"We're considering anyone who knew our victim to be a suspect," he said. "We've eliminated no one."

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

"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 hadn't been found, he said.

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