Iowa felon arrested after allegedly shooting at deer, hitting woman in head: report

An Iowa felon who authorities believe was intoxicated allegedly fired a .30-30 rifle at a deer but accidentally hit a 73-year-old woman in her home Friday night, The Des Moines Register reported.

The woman was reportedly cleaning a stove in her Ottumwa, Iowa, home when she heard a loud noise. She felt the back of her head and discovered she was bleeding.

She drove herself to a hospital where doctors dislodged a bullet from the back of her head, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in a news release. She was later discharged from the hospital.

The suspect, later identified as 34-year-old Lee Joseph Ryals, was arrested at a camper for allegedly shooting a deer around 7:00 p.m. The arrest was about 45 minutes before authorities learned of the woman’s injuries.


Investigators soon connected Ryals with the alleged offense, estimating that the bullet traveled more than 120 yards before it entered the woman’s home. Authorities reportedly said Ryals was likely drunk when he shot the rifle.

Ryals was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and reckless use of a firearm. Conservation officers also charged him with several hunting violations.

Ottumwa is about 90 miles southeast of Des Moines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.