ODESSA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who fired the shot that struck an anti-abortion rights canvasser in the shoulder last week called it an accident but also said the volunteer had been arguing with his wife, who supports abortion rights, and refused to leave their property.
“I came out and she (the volunteer) is screaming and having a great old time, and being told, I’m sure I heard at least a dozen times, ‘You’re trespassing, get off the property,'” 74-year-old Richard Harvey, wearing a “Facts Matter” baseball cap, told News 8 on Tuesday.
The shooting happened near Lake Odessa on Sept. 20. The 83-year-old victim volunteers for Right to Life, which says she was peaceful and was walking away when she was shot in the back.
Harvey disputes that.
The woman drove herself to a nearby police department and is recovering.
No charges had been filed as of Tuesday while state police continue to investigate.
Harvey’s wife Sharon Harvey said it all started with a knock on the door of their more than a century-old farmhouse.
“This lady comes up to me, knocks on my door, and says she’s from some coalition to save women and babies,” Sharon Harvey said. “She needed me to vote no on Proposal 3.”
That’s the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot that if approved would enshrine reproductive rights, including to abortions, in the Michigan Constitution. Right to Life of Michigan is campaigning against it.
“I told her I can’t do that and she says, ‘Well, you have to.’ I says, ‘No, I don’t. It’s not going to happen,'” Sharon Harvey said. “I told her I had a four-and-a-half month tubal pregnancy, and she says, ‘Well, you survived, didn’t you?'”
Sharon Harvey said the tubal pregnancy in 1971 required surgery and nearly killed her.
The argument, she said, was on.
“She would not take the fact that I was going to vote yes on Proposal 3 as an answer,” Sharon Harvey said. “She didn’t care. She didn’t care. I told her, I says, ‘Women are going to die. I nearly died.’ She says, ‘Well you didn’t, did you?'”
“I says, ‘You need to go. Just go.’ She says, ‘Well, I have a right to be here.’ ‘No you don’t; you need to go. You need to go now. Get off my property.'”
She said the woman ignored at least a dozen warnings to leave, though she finally did step off their front porch.
“It got louder and louder. My husband was in the barn and he heard it,” Sharon Harvey said.
“I’m in the barn,” her husband recalled. “I hear a bunch of screaming going on.”
Richard Harvey said he came out of the barn with a .22-caliber rifle that belongs to his wife and fired a warning shot into the pine tree out front.
“She (the volunteer) is still ranting and raving and she’s got this clipboard. She’s waving it around. I’m thinking she’s going to smack Sharon with it. So without thinking, I went to club it away with the rifle and my finger was still in the trigger guard. It went off and hit her about in here,” he said, pointing to his right shoulder.
Michigan State Police are investigating. Ionia County Prosecutor Kyle Butler told News 8 Monday that he’s waiting for police reports before deciding on whether to file charges.
Richard Harvey acknowledged he could face charges.
“It’s always possible,” he said. “I shot somebody. It was an accident.”