Kim Rhode’s a sure shot--and she benefits from a long shot


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When Kim Rhode of El Monte returned to her car outside a Lake Elsinore shopping mall in early September and saw that the windows of her truck had been smashed, she immediately feared the worst.

The thieves didn’t take her four Olympic medals (two golds and a bronze in double trap shooting, and a silver in skeet shooting from the Beijing Games) that she’d taken from safekeeping to film a public service announcement. Nor did the thieves take money or tools from her truck.


They took only her Perazzi shotgun, a highly customized instrument she had relied on since her first Olympic triumph at Atlanta in 1996.

‘It was almost like being violated to have someone go through your stuff,’ said Rhode, who believes the thieves followed her after she completed the public service announcement, and knew what to look for after she hid the gun in the bottom of the truck.

‘It’s an eerie, creepy feeling,’ Rhode said. ‘Your heart sinks.’

She figured that she would never recover the gun, which she said was not insured. She put its value at about $25,000, but her father and coach, Richard, said it was essentially priceless.

‘It was really emotional for Kim because she’s used that gun in four Olympics,’ he said. ‘It’s like losing your gold medal.’

Thanks to the efforts of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, an ecstatic Rhode was reunited with her shotgun on Wednesday. It had been recovered in Perris, still in its case. The lock had been broken but the gun wasn’t damaged, to her surprise and gratitude.

‘I didn’t think it would be in as good condition as it is,’ she said. ‘They told me they were going after a guy who was on parole -- a really bad guy -- and they found guns and drugs in his home. They found my gun under the bed and in the case. They didn’t know what it was until they ran the serial numbers and discovered it was stolen.

‘They don’t believe he busted the window. They think he purchased it from the guys who did. The thing now is I’m very thankful to have it back, but I would still like to catch the two guys who took it.’

Having her gun back allows Rhode to clear her mind and focus on other things. The 2012 London Olympics are very much on her agenda, but first comes her March 21 wedding to Michael Harryman, an air-conditioning technician and musician.

‘He’s just a normal guy,’ she said. ‘He didn’t start shooting until he met me.’

Let’s hope for a happy ending for Rhode there, too.

-- Helene Elliott and Kevin Baxter