A Poplar Bluff, Missouri, girl was taken off life support today after her father accidentally shot her in the face on December 20 while handling a gun.
New York Daily News reports that Katilyn, 17, was in her own room when a bullet from her father’s gun blew through the wall from the living and hit her in the face. According to Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs, the father stated that he didn’t know that the gun was loaded.
Authorities said that Kaitlyn was shot by a black-powder gun at around 11:25 a.m. on Monday, in the family’s home. Her father, Joe Denton Pullam, was performing CPR on his daughter when authorities arrived.
After deputies arrived to the home, they found the teen laying on the floor in her room, unresponsive, with one bullet wound to the face. She was covered in blood, and per authorities, the gun wound was severe. Authorities also stated that Kaitlyn was most likely standing close to her bed’s headboard when the bullet blasted through the wall and hit her. Butler County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brandon Lowe, who arrived at the scene to assist, stated the following.
“[The bullet] actually went in through her right shoulder, then blew up, and shrapnel hit her in the face and chest and then hit the other wall.”
Butler County sheriff’s investigator Randle Huddleston added that the bullet split up and went into her lungs, placing the teen’s health in life-threatening condition.
Authorities began questioning the family about the incident, and Kaitlyn’s mother, Barbara Pullam, stated that she brought home two.50-caliber muzzleloader guns from a cabin where they had been stored for years. Joe Pullam was handling one of the guns when it went off.
“(Joe Pullam) said they had been in a cabin for three years. He thought they were unloaded. He picked one of them up, and while handling the firearm, he inadvertently squeezed the trigger, and it went off.”
KFWS 12 reports that authorities confirmed that Kaitlyn didn’t have a pulse when they arrived. She was rushed to the hospital, while EMR continued to attempt to resuscitate her. She regained her pulse once she arrived to the emergency room at the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.
The teen was transferred to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital afterwards, where she held on in a coma until Christmas Eve, when her family agreed to remove her from life support. She died at 4:00 p.m.
The family has been leaning on their church and community for support after the tragedy. According to Pastor David Steward of Poplar Bluff’s First United Methodist Church, the family is humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of care and support they’re receiving.
“They just greatly appreciate everything that people have done. They’ve been surprised by the number of people who’ve wanted to be involved and connecting. They’ve been overwhelmed by the amount and outpouring of generosity.”
Kaitlyn, who graduated high school early this year, had dreams of working in forensics. She was waiting for her friends to graduate in 2016, according to Stewart, so that she could walk with them during graduation.
“She had goals, she was driven, she was going to accomplish those. In fact, she really had already graduated, but was going to hang out for just one more semester just to walk with everybody else.”
To help with burial funds and other expenses for Kaitlyn Pullam, the family asks that all donations be sent to the the Poplar Bluff First United Methodist Church.
[Photo by the Pullam Family/Facebook]