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Sheriff says department helicopter was shot down

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Albuquerque (New Mexico)
New Mexico

(CNN) -- A Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department helicopter that crashed Saturday in the yard of an Albuquerque home was brought down by a bullet, Sheriff Darren White said late Tuesday.

At a news conference in New Mexico, White showed pictures of where a bullet penetrated the windshield of the aircraft, known as Metro One, and shattered on a pedal the pilot uses to fly the helicopter.

The inside of the cockpit tested positive for lead fragments, according to forensic tests, and pilot Chris Holland and Deputy Ward Pfefferle suffered shrapnel wounds.

White did not specifically explain how the bullet brought Metro One down Saturday night.

"We intend to use every resource available to track down the coward who is responsible for this sick and twisted act," said White, who credited the experience of the crew for avoiding loss of life.

An incredulous White promised to find the person who opened fire on the helicopter.

"How could someone walk out in the middle of the night and take a gun and fire at a helicopter that's out there trying to protect the public?" he said. "It's a miracle they're alive."

The FBI and Albuquerque police are assisting in the investigation.

Authorities have set up a tip line at 505-980-2496 and also urged anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 505-843-STOP.

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