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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 20:51 GMT
Cheney accepts blame for shooting
Vice-President Dick Cheney hunting quail in Gettysburg in 2002
Dick Cheney has a reputation as a keen quail hunter
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has taken full responsibility for accidentally shooting a hunting companion.

Mr Cheney had faced growing pressure from politicians and the media to make a statement about Saturday's incident, which happened on a ranch in Texas.

Speaking on Fox TV, he said: "I'm the guy that pulled the trigger."

Harry Whittington, 78, was left with pellets in his body after the shooting, leading to a minor heart attack, doctors said.

Mr Cheney told Fox TV that Saturday had been "one of the worst days of my life".

It's not Harry's fault. Ultimately, I'm the guy that pulled the trigger and shot my friend
Vice-President Dick Cheney

He defended his decision not to report the matter immediately to the public - instead leaving it to the ranch owner to tell a local paper the next day - saying he still thought it had been "the right call".

"You can talk about all the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line," he said.

"And it's not Harry's fault. Ultimately, I'm the guy that pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

Mr Whittington was moved back into intensive care on Tuesday but is said to be on the mend.

Mr Cheney, who visited him in hospital a day after the shooting, also telephoned him on Tuesday to offer support.

'Secretive nature'

The BBC's Justin Webb says the strange affair has become a potential political liability for the White House.

Democrats have sensed the discomfort of the vice-president and have pounced on it, he says.

Sat 11 Feb 1830*: incident takes place
1930: President Bush informed
2000: Bush told Cheney pulled trigger
2115: Whittington is flown to hospital and put into intensive care
Sun 12 Feb 1400: Cheney's office confirms incident to Corpus Christi Caller-Times
1448: Caller-Times runs Katherine Armstrong's account
Early Sun eve: Cheney visits Whittington in hospital
Mon 13 Feb 1500: Whittington moved from intensive care
Tue 14 Feb 0730: Whittington suffers minor heart attack and moved back into intensive care
1330: Cheney calls Whittington to wish him well
Wed 15 Feb: Cheney takes full blame in first TV interview
*All times EST (GMT-5)

Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, said on Tuesday it was time the American people heard from Mr Cheney.

Mr Reid said the vice-president's failure to make any public comment was part of the secretive nature of the Bush administration.

President Ronald Reagan's former press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, said he was "appalled" by the White House handling of the incident.

Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the private ranch where the accident occurred, said Mr Cheney had turned round to shoot at a bird, unaware Mr Whittington was behind him, and sprayed him with shotgun pellets.

Mr Whittington, a lawyer, was hit in the cheek, neck and chest.

Despite the heart problem, doctors said Mr Whittington was now on the road to recovery.

He is now sitting up and eating regularly - and even preparing some legal work, according to a spokesman for the Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Mr Whittington was moved to intensive care for privacy rather than medical reasons, the hospital added.

Doctors have said the lawyer will probably have the pellets in his body for the rest of his life.

Hear Dick Cheney take the blame for the shooting

Cheney's reputation taking flak
16 Feb 06 |  Americas
Man Cheney shot has heart attack
14 Feb 06 |  Americas
Cheney shooting delay under fire
14 Feb 06 |  Americas
Cheney shoots man in hunt error
13 Feb 06 |  Americas
Cheney faces impropriety claims
06 Feb 04 |  Americas
Profile: Dick Cheney
03 Sep 04 |  Americas

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