A Democratic Iowa House candidate has been charged with reckless use of a firearm after police say she shot a gun through a sliding glass door in her home last week.
Sonya Heitshusen, 55, of West Des Moines is running for Iowa House District 28, which includes parts of West Des Moines, Van Meter and Adel.
Heitshusen, a former WHO-TV news anchor, said in a statement that she has received a variety of threats over the years due to her role as a journalist and now a candidate for office. Because of that, and because her partner is a police officer “there are firearms in our home for personal protection,” she said.
“I’ve received ongoing threatening messages on social media,” she said in the statement. “Knowing my partner was leaving town for an extended period of time, I checked one of the firearms, and while checking it, an accidental discharge of the firearm occurred.”
West Des Moines police say in a criminal complaint that Heitshusen pulled the trigger of a black Glock 21 handgun while inside her home sometime around 11 p.m. on June 27. The bullet went through the glass of Heitshusen’s sliding glass door, police said.
Heitshusen has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney, Grant Woodard, said she would vigorously defend herself in court.
“We believe that this is utterly baseless,” he said. “No crime was committed and Ms. Heitshusen will be exonerated, ultimately.”
The police complaint states that Heitshusen told law enforcement officers “that as she was placing the handgun onto the kitchen table, she pulled the trigger, discharging it.”
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There was no safety on the gun, and the gun did not belong to Heitshusen, according to the criminal complaint, which was filed Tuesday in Dallas County.
A separate West Des Moines Police report said the gun belongs to Heitshusen’s partner, a Des Moines police officer. In that report, police said Heitshusen “admitted to having a couple drinks prior to the incident.”
“No one was hurt and no property was damaged other than my own,” Heitshusen said in her statement. “I take full responsibility for the accident and we reported it to the police. I look forward to this matter being resolved quickly.”
The charge of reckless use of a firearm causing property damage is an aggravated misdemeanor and could carry a sentence of up to two years if convicted.
Heitshusen works as the communications director for the Iowa State Auditor’s office. She will face Republican David Young, a former U.S. representative, in the Nov. 8 general election.
The news was first published on the conservative website Iowa Field Report.