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Cheney shoots, injures man during hunting trip in Texas

WASHINGTON—Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting in Texas.

Harry Whittington, 78, a wealthy Austin attorney, was listed in stable condition Sunday night at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The shooting occurred about 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch, a 50,000-acre spread in southeast Texas that Cheney visits frequently.

Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch, told The Corpus Christi Caller-Times that Cheney turned to shoot at some quail that had just been flushed but instead accidentally peppered one side of Whittington's body with birdshot.

"Nobody wants this to happen, but it does," Armstrong told the paper.

She said Cheney's Secret Service detail tended to Whittington until paramedics arrived. At the request of Whittington's family, hospital officials would not disclose details of his injuries.

A deputy from the Kenedy County Sheriff's Office said Sunday night that she had no specifics on the shooting.

Though the incident happened Saturday afternoon, the White House officials did not release information about it until Sunday afternoon.

Lea Anne McBride, Cheney's spokeswoman, said the vice president met with Whittington and his wife at the hospital Sunday. She said Cheney "was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits."

Cheney and Whittington were part of a hunting party of four. McBride would not disclose the names of the other hunters, referring that inquiry to Katherine Armstrong. Armstrong did not return calls to Knight Ridder Sunday night.

The Armstrong family is prominent among Texas Republicans. Her mother, Anne, was U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain in the Ford administration. Cheney spoke at the funeral of her father, Tobin, a revered Texas rancher, in October.

White House officials described Whittington as a friend of Cheney's. Whittington is a millionaire attorney who has been battling the city of Austin over efforts to condemn a downtown block that his family owns in order to build a $10.5 million municipal parking garage.

Whittington won twice in court against the city, and the Texas Supreme Court last month denied Austin's request to hear an appeal.

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(c) 2006, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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