Iowa Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Investigation

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During the investigation of a shooting there are normally several different perceptions of what actually occurred. Such things as struggling over the firearm or where the victim and shooter were standing in relationship to one another are questions that need unbiased answers.

Firearm examiners routinely examine a shooting victim's clothing for bullet holes and other evidence that may allow for a determination of the distance from the muzzle of the firearm to the clothing. Determinations are made as to which holes are bullet entrance holes and which are bullet exit holes. The area around bullet entry holes can be examined for patterns of gunshot residues. If residue patterns are detected they are then compared with test targets produced by firing the firearm in question at various known distances allowing the examiner to approximate the distance from the object that was shot to the muzzle end of the firearm. When ammunition containing multiple projectiles is used in a shooting, the pellet pattern can be used for determining the distance

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