Cousin of Texas governor killed by deputies in Montague Co.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A cousin of Texas Gov. Rick Perry was shot and killed over the weekend in his backyard during an exchange of gunfire with sheriff's deputies.

Perry says the death is tragic but stresses that he hardly knew 74-year-old Larry Don Wheeler. That's even though Wheeler was listed as a member of Perry's 2006 re-election steering committee.

Says Perry: "I'm not sure I would pick him out of a lineup." Perry says Wheeler was a distant cousin on his grandmother's side.

A family attorney says the retired social worker was sitting on his backyard deck Saturday night at his home at a Montague County country club. That's when two sheriff's deputies showed up in response to a disturbance call.

Sheriff Paul Cunningham says his department received a report of a man with a shotgun.

What happened next is unclear and under investigation. After an exchange of gunfire, Wheeler was dead and a deputy was shot in the hand.

An autopsy is pending, and the Texas Rangers are investigating at Cunningham's request.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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