49-year-old Derrill Rockwell told polic that he shot a woman in the head after mistaking her large red mohawk for a large red bird that had been antagonizing his cats. He has been sentenced to five years probation.

Derrill Rockwell told police he spotted what he thought was the harassing bird sitting on a hill near his home in the early morning hours of October 5, so he grabbed his .22 and went outside to confront it. His intent, he told police, was to “spook” it away.

Rockwell fired one shot, but didn’t see the bird fly away. Soon after, he told police, he heard a woman’s voice, moaning in pain. The bird turned out to be a 23-year-old woman sporting a large red mohawk with a gunshot wound to the head.

Rockwell later told police he ran to the woman’s aid and offered a wet towel for the bleeding. Then, he said, he rushed her to the emergency room, leaving his name and phone number with hospital staff.

Police say Rockwell did not admit to shooting the woman at that time, but told hospital staff he had found the strange and bloodied woman outside of his home.

After dropping the woman off at the ER, Rockell apparently rushed home and disposed of his rifle. It wasn’t until about six days after the shooting that he admitted that he had mistaken the woman for a bird and put a hole in her head.

After conducting a comprehensive investigation into Rockwell’s account, re-enactment included, police came to the conclusion that the woman was crouching at the top of the hill — her red mohawk exposed roughly 90 feet away — when she was shot.

Police also have reason to believe that the woman sleeping off a drunk prior to being shot, and officers found a small bag of suspected meth in the area where she had been sleeping it off. The woman, believed to be a transient, left the area shortly after the shooting and was not in court to testify.

Initially charged with tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and false reporting, Rockwell was convicted on a charge of felony possession of a weapon by a prior offender and sentenced to five years probation. He was also ordered to pay more than $10,000 in restitution.

Rockwell had been prohibited from owning a firearm after a 1995 conviction for attempted burglary.

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