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N.m. Helicopter Brought Down By Gunfire


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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A sheriff's department helicopter that crash-landed during a burglary investigation was brought down by gunfire, authorities said.


Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said authorities have no suspects but were working with the FBI. Investigators concluded the bullet struck a control pedal, he said.


Both the civilian pilot and the deputy who were on board when the helicopter went down early Saturday survived with minor injuries, including shrapnel wounds. The helicopter came down just 15 feet from a house.


The pilot and deputy were assisting deputies on the ground who were investigating a burglary call when the helicopter lost power, White said Wednesday. The pilot told White he heard a pop before helicopter pitched and the engine shut down.


"He was trying to do an emergency landing, but it was a crash landing," White said.


Investigators examining the wreckage found what appeared to be a small hole in the cockpit windshield, and a bullet fragment was found in the deputy's flight suit.


Trajectory tests determined the bullet struck the helicopter's left pedal, one of two that control the aircraft's right or left motion. If it had missed the pedal, it would have struck the pilot in the chest, White said.


The pilot and deputy were assisting deputies on the ground who were investigating a burglary call when the chopper lost power, White said. Although the rotor continued spinning in what's called autorotation, the helicopter descended 400 feet to the ground in just four seconds, White said.


"That's the reason the helicopter is literally in pieces," the sheriff said.

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