Sheriff's Deputy Shot Decorated Navy Vet in Her Own Backyard Because She 'Startled' Him

While investigating reports of a ski-masked man skulking around Spring Valley Sunday night, a San Diego County sheriff's deputy entered the backyard of a resident and shot her "point blank" after she allegedly startled him.

According to Lt. Larry Nesbit of the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, two deputies entered Jennifer Orey's backyard with their weapons drawn after deeming her open gate "suspicious." At some point they encountered the 36-year-old, and Deputy Luke Berhalter opened fire.

Orey's brother, James Morgan, told the San Diego Union-Tribune his sister stepped out of the house in her pajamas after hearing a noise she thought could be her ex-husband. She told Morgan she bumped into one of the deputies and even identified herself as the homeowner prior to the shooting.

Afterwards, Orey asked Berhalter why he shot her. "The cop said, 'Well, I'm sorry, you startled me,'" Morgan told 10News.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore insists that Orey was shot in the arm, but her family says the bullet entered her chest and exited through her arm. She was recovering at a local hospital but has since been released.

Orey is a decorated veteran of the Navy's Air and Sea rescue team, her family said, and the first woman to earn Wings of Gold.

Berhalter is currently on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.

[screengrab via San Diego 6]