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The man, who needed an operation to remove the pellet, from a high-powered air rifle, says he's worried about kids being injured. Police seek information...

A man has been shot in the back of his leg with a high-powered air rifle as he fixed a puncture on a cycle path.

Carl Lacy, 40, who just moved to the Hartlepool area, said the pellet went into his calf as he fixed a puncture on a cycle path near the Phoenix Centre. As well as leaving a bloody wound, the pellet passed between his tibia and fibia, before wedging itself into his shin bone. He required an operation to remove the projectile.

He says police are unsure whether the perpetrator meant to hit a rabbit or rat, or was targeting people, but he fears the next victim may be a child if they aren’t stopped. Cleveland Police have asked anyone with information to come forward.

He told the Gazette Live he had been out for a ride and was returning at around 9pm when the incident occurred. “I had to stop to pump my tyre, because I had a slow puncture. I just finished pumping my tyre, went to stand up and get back on my bike and felt a sharp pain in my leg, a really sharp pain and my leg went into cramp and I thought I’d pulled an Achilles tendon or pulled a hamstring.”

He rode back home using one leg and realised, when he tried to massage his leg, what had happened.

“The pain was like nothing I’ve ever felt before; I pulled up my trouser leg and there was blood everywhere and a perfect round hole in my leg. So I thought I’d been shot.”

He was taken to hospital and was operated on the next day, and the pellet removed.

 “If it hadn’t wedged [in the shin] it would have gone all the way through”, he told the Gazette. He says if the projectile had hit his upper body it could have punctured a lung.

 “Police say I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time; they don’t know if it was someone shooting rabbits and rats missed and got me or whether somebody was out there to hit people.

“I’m just more worried that a kid might get hit next. That type of penetration in my leg if it hit a child in the body, it could have gone right through, could puncture lungs, it could kill a child next, so I just want whoever did it to be caught and stopped.”

Cleveland Police confirmed a crime was reported. A spokeswoman said: “Our colleagues from the ambulance service notified us that they had taken a man to hospital with a serious leg injury which he had suffered while out cycling.

“The man continues to recover from his injury and inquiries are ongoing.

“Anyone with information which could help police is asked to contact DC Darren Guest of Hartlepool Volume Crime Team on the non-emergency 101 number, or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”