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Shots at Wedding Draw Fire From an Editor

July 01, 1989

Regarding your story, "Tabloid Reporters on Firing Line at Don Johnson Wedding," let me make a few salient comments.

I'm fascinated to hear that Mr. Johnson's flack, Elliot Mintz, now dismisses as a publicity stunt the incident in which two of our reporting personnel were fired upon and injured by buckshot as they flew by in a helicopter.

Let me cite a front page story in the June 28 Aspen Times Daily. In it, the pilot of the helicopter, Vietnam veteran Burt Metcalf, says quite firmly and on the record that his craft was fired upon from the Johnson ranch and that he was treated like "a clay pigeon."

This charge is supported in the same story by Sheriff Braudis who says he believes the chopper was struck by a bullet. The sheriff also says that Metcalf violated no air safety rules. News film has been seen in Denver and New York showing the copter flying well clear of the Johnson premises, yet being subjected to a fusillade of ground fire. It's all there to see and hear.

Mr. Mintz says he warned the control tower at the Aspen airport that there would be skeet shooting practice at the Johnson ranch the afternoon of the wedding. Trish Porch, a spokeswoman for the airport, tells the Star:

"No calls came in that there was any skeet shooting going on. If a call like that came in to the tower, they would have notified your helicopter pilot because they all know him and he goes by the rules."

We were reporting on a wedding, protected by the First Amendment. Don Johnson turned it into a scene from "Miami Vice." We'll see him in court, and that's a promise, not a publicity stunt.

DICK KAPLAN

Editor, Star Magazine

Tarrytown, N.Y.

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