Sitting in her backyard Thursday night, Missy Vandersloot could hear fireworks exploding – a typical sound on the Fourth of July. Then, out of nowhere, she felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to the top of her shoulder and set it on fire.
She said she screamed for her husband, Cameron Vandersloot, who had been watching television in their house on the near-northeast side of Fort Wayne. He came outside and saw his wife in a panic.
"My first reaction was, you know, maybe hot amber fell out of the sky from the fireworks," he said.
But when he put his hand on her shoulder, it felt moist.
"I ripped her shirt off and saw a perfectly round hole in her shoulder with a trickle of blood coming out, and I knew right away," he said. "I immediately called 911 because I watch enough 'Cops' on TV that you know what a bullet hole looks like."
Emergency crews came to their home at 1525 Bayer Ave about 10:45 p.m., and medics took Missy Vandersloot to Parkview Regional Medical Center. The hospital staff treated her wound, but did not find a bullet or an exit wound, she said.
When the couple came home about 3 a.m., they looked for a bullet and found one a few steps from where she was sitting when she was hit, she said.
Officer Jeremy Webb, a spokesman for the Fort Wayne Police Department, said an officer came to retrieve the bullet Friday. The night before, police had taken her shirt as evidence, he said.
Webb said it's not uncommon on the Fourth of July for people to shoot guns into the air as fireworks are going off. He said detectives were made aware of this case but that police have no suspects.
The Vandersloots don't know where the stray bullet came from, but they think a neighbor known to fire guns is to blame. That anyone would be so irresponsible with a gun makes them mad.
"I was born and raised in the South, and I know how to respect guns and the safety of guns. And it's not to be used on the Fourth of July," Missy Vandersloot, 37, said. "Go to a shooting range. Hunt."
"We were all kids once, and sure, it's fun to shoot guns, but it was idiotic to do that down in here," Cameron Vandersloot, 46, said. "I'd like to find who did it, definitely."
Missy Vandersloot said the experience has left her afraid to be outside in her neighborhood, a place she had always felt safe.
"I feel like I'm going to have a battle walking out of my house," she said Friday evening as she stood on her front patio. "I'm not trying to be dramatic by any means. I'm scared."
How much the worse her wound could have been was on both of their minds.
"Two inches more to the left, I wouldn't be talking to you right now," she said.