The shooting was reported by a couple camping nearby the incident. Brad Ginn and Madelyn Durand, both Western Kentucky University students, told Louisville Courier Journal they were woken up in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 28, during a camping trip to Mammoth Cave National Park by a man who said something destroyed his campsite.
The couple had been sleeping in a tent until Durand woke up her boyfriend, telling him that she saw flashlights and heard loud voices. The two exited their tent to meet a man with whom she assumed was his young son.
The unidentified man claimed that his own campsite and tent had been destroyed and that they were in “Bigfoot country,” reported Courier Journal.
“He also showed us [his] gun and told us he hopes we have some kind of weapon,” Durand told Bowling Green Daily News.
The man and the child left, only to return moments later, wielding his gun.
“A few minutes later we see their lights approaching again,” Ginn said, “and as they get closer we hear the man yell something like ‘oh my God! Do you see that? There it is!'”
“He had shot to the side of our tent about 20 yards away,” Durand said. “We got out of the tent and were asking him what it was he just shot at and he claimed Bigfoot ran towards him so he just shot. We shined our flashlights towards where he said it was and there was absolutely nothing there.”
Durand told Courier Journal they asked the man if he was serious, and the man said he was.
After the stranger left the scene, the young couple decided it was too dangerous to stay in the park. They called 911 and hiked 5 miles back to their car to meet park officials, reported the Daily News.
“Hiking for hours in the dark with a man who was shooting at nothing was scary,” Durand said.
Park rangers responded at around 2 a.m. to Sunday’s incident, which is still under an ongoing investigation, according to the park’s spokewoman Molly Schroer.
Congress has passed a law that allows loaded firearms in national parks, starting in 2010. That means visitors can openly carry their loaded handguns, rifles, shotguns and other firearms as long as these weapons are legal according to the laws of the state in which the park is located. That being said, it remains illegal to discharge the firearm in national parks unless under “rare circumstances.”
Schroer told the Daily News that since the law was enacted in 2010, there have been three other known incidents of guns being fired within Mammoth Cave National Park, including two discharges related to poaching and a visitor suicide.
There have been nearly 400 Bigfoot siting reports in Kentucky, according to kentuckybigfoot.com, a website founded by a group of Bigfoot believers in 1997 to document all “credible Bigfoot encounters in Kentucky.”
In one of these entries titled “camper attack“, a man named Brent claimed he and his daughter were camping at Mammoth Cave National Park in August 2015 when they encountered Bigfoot. He said the unidentified creature repeatedly slapped and knocked on their camper in the early morning, while making “different and strange” noises. Brent also submitted an audio clip of his encounter.