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Shooting Victim Doing Fine--With 6 Bullets in Head

November 19, 1987|CHARLES HILLINGER | Times Staff Writer

PETALUMA, Calif. — A 40-year-old mechanic shot in the head six times with a small-caliber handgun over the weekend was at home Wednesday seemingly none the worse--and with the bullets still lodged in his head.

"He doesn't appear to have a single defect. It's really amazing," said Dr. Stephen Cary of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where the victim, James L. Sexton, was treated.

One of the bullets, visible as a lump in the back of Sexton's neck, may be removed, but plans are to leave the other five in his head, the physician told reporters here.

None of the bullets penetrated Sexton's brain. One behind his right eye has not impaired his vision; two behind the tongue and esophagus have not harmed his speech or swallowing. The other bullet is lodged near the spine.

"He took the whole thing very calmly," said Petaluma Detective Dave Kahl. "He was in some pain. He isn't emotional at all. He told me briefly what happened as far as he remembers. He mused matter-of-fact about everything. It's unbelievable."

The only problem Cary could foresee was "when he goes through metal detectors at an airport. Otherwise the bullets are not life-threatening."

Sexton told Detective Kahl he had dinner at his home with a friend, Daniel Frost, 32, Saturday evening.

Kahl said he has yet to question Sexton in depth about what transpired between the two men. "All Sexton told me so far," he said, "was that following dinner the two men visited, then he went to bed, fell asleep and the next thing he knew he awakened after being shot in the head."

An unidentified male called police shortly before midnight Saturday and said there had been a shooting at Sexton's address, then hung up.

Police called the residence and Sexton answered the phone. He said Frost had shot him and then fled in a green Ford Bronco, but he had no explanation for the shooting.

Officers spotted the suspect's vehicle speeding along a main street in Petaluma. A pursuit ensued by Petaluma police, Sonoma County sheriff's deputies and the California Highway Patrol.

After several miles, Frost stopped his car, poured flammable liquid over the interior, set it afire and tried to escape on foot while aiming his gun at the officers, they reported.

One of the deputies shot the suspect in the stomach. He was flown by helicopter to Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol, where his condition remains critical.

"The suspect has drifted in and out of consciousness and we haven't been able to talk to him about the matter yet," Detective Kahl said.

Sexton has declined to be photographed or to speak to reporters.

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