First we had that pesky O.J. Simpson glove. Then came Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

Pinal County Deputy Purrol's bloody T-shirt/submitted photo

Now we have Pinal County Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll’s bloody T-shirt.

Puroll’s bullet-holed shirt is officially being turned over to the Arizona Department of Public Safety – and his shooting case being re-opened – in the wake of reports that question the veracity of Puroll’s account of what happened out in the desert April 30, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

To recap, 53-year-old Puroll, a 15-year-veteran with the sheriff’s office, was wounded on his left side while out tracking drug smugglers near Antelope Peak.

“He was ambushed and shot,” says a May 9 letter from Sheriff Paul Babeu, with the shooting resulting in a multi-agency sweep. “There were over 100 illegals apprehended within our security perimeter in the remote desert area south of I-8 and west of Casa Grande, just within 24 hours we were there.”

Two medical examiners, one from New York and the other out of Michigan, told the Arizona Republic there is no way Puroll was shot from afar.

He had to be “within inches” of the weapon, not 25 yards away, claims Dr. Michael Baden, co-director of the New York State Police Medicolegal Investigation Unit and former chief medical examiner for New York City.

“This was fired at contact range . . . with the muzzle of the gun lying against the skin,” the Republic quotes Dr. Werner Spitz, co-author of the textbook “Medicolegal Investigation of Death” and the retired chief medical examiner of Detroit’s Wayne County.

Close-up of Pinal County Deputy Purrol's wound on his back/submitted photo

Neither doctor treated Puroll and both made conclusions based on photos of the wound.

“If in fact a rifle was fired at Deputy Puroll within a couple of inches as Dr. Baden and Dr. Spitz have concluded,” a release from Babeu’s office says, “burn marks and residue will be present on the shirt.”

Other “law-enforcement experts” question why Puroll was patrolling alone and how smugglers got away with large loads of marijuana if so many searchers were on the scene, the Republic story adds.

The case had already been closed. Both the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety had concluded their criminal investigation and confirmed Puroll’s account of what transpired. But now the sheriff’s office is re-opening it for further investigation.

Egads – was the shooting staged only to get some attention? Is all this mumbo jumbo about dangers in the desert, like rampantly running armed drug smugglers, really just a myth?

Hopefully the shirt will help with the answers – provided, of course, it fits better than some bloody gloves.


Pinal County Deputy Purrol's wound/submitted photo