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A Sandy man said he awoke early Wednesday to find his girlfriend on the floor, bleeding from an apparent shotgun wound to the back. The man told police he believed the woman had shot herself.

The 43-year-old woman was undergoing surgery early Wednesday at LDS Hospital, where she was initially listed in critical condition with wounds apparently caused by birdshot, a hospital spokeswoman said.Meanwhile, detectives questioned her 36-year-old boyfriend at the Sandy police station. The couple share a gray two-level home at 8294 S. 535 East and have lived together since 1992, Sandy police spokesman Tim Berhow said.

The man told police he heard a loud blast just after midnight and found the woman lying just outside their bedroom with the double-barreled shotgun, either a .12- or .20-gauge, on the floor beside her, Berhow said.

He called 911 at 12:37 a.m., but he said the woman told him not to call police, so he hung up, Berhow said. Instead, he attempted to call a doctor, but again hung up and redialed 911.

The man put ice and a towel on the woman's wounds, and she was transported to the hospital by helicopter after police and emergency rescue crews arrived. She complained of numbness in her legs.

The man first said he doesn't normally keep a loaded gun in the house but had recently gone shooting and had propped it up, barrel side down, behind a dresser, Berhow said. He had also told police that he keeps the gun for home protection.