‘I now say a little prayer’ Neighbors say gun range bullets are hitting their homes

Posted at 9:39 AM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 09:39:45-04

SPENCER, Ind. — People living near an Indiana gun range say they're scared of being struck by a bullet inside of their own homes.

“The neighbor’s daughter and I were outside and we heard the bullet whizz by,” said Spencer resident Kathy Wise. “It went whirr, thump.”

Homeowners who live directly across from the Precision Gun Range say their houses on Hardscrabble Road have been struck by several bullets.

During an interview with WXIN, Wise walked around the house and pointed out bullet holes she and her husband found on the back of the garage. Then, she showed where she says state police and local investigators found even more bullet holes, along with some of the bullets themselves.

“When he checked our house, he found a bullet in our house, a .223,” said Wise. “He’s got it on record where he pulled the siding out and pulled it out of the side of the house.”

Investigators traced the path of one bullet from the outside of the garage, through a divider and clear through another wall.

“It’s a dangerous safety issue,” said Wise. “Our ballistics man was shocked. He says it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when someone gets hurt.”

Investigators have also found bullet holes or bullets on the neighbors’ properties.

Ballistics professionals have flagged bullets throughout the tree line separating the gun range from the homes and beyond, on the residential side of the woods. They’ve told the Wises and other neighbors that the woods should stop any bullets from leaving the property, but, in a Facebook post, also claimed any bullets that clear the berm—used to stop bullets that miss targets—would clear residential houses as well.

Wise said that’s problematic for two reasons. First, the woods aren’t owned by the range – but bullets shot by the customers have torn up the trees, leaving the owner unable to log the timber for money.

The second issue, Wise said, is that if bullets are clearing their house, the range is still acknowledging bullets are leaving their property.

“No bullet should ever leave their property on a gun range,” Wise said. “If it goes over us, it’s going to be in the road, where school buses are.  There’s a man who rides a bike up and down the road, you driving in the road, anybody could get hit in their car now.”

Precision staff would not talk on camera, but did say they take safety seriously. They claimed their investigation shows the bullet holes didn’t come from them and they’re likely not responsible.

However, Wise claims the owners left her a voicemail offering to pay for damages to their house and trailer, something she believes they wouldn't do if they didn’t feel responsible.

Since then – despite the gun range backing away from taking responsibility – the owners did shorten the distance between its building and the targets.

But the bullets keep coming anyway, Wise said.

Owen County Sheriff Leonard Hobbs told WXIN he recommended Precision shutter the rifle range portion of the business until the investigation is over.

Wise said that she and her husband won't sleep peacefully until Precision can guarantee "100 percent" a bullet won’t come through their home. “Every time he comes out to the garage, I now say a little prayer to keep him safe,” said Wise. “It’s like, you shouldn’t have to pray for your husband’s safety in your own house in Spencer, Indiana.”

If the problems with the rifle range aren’t solved, Wise said they’ll be forced to continue planning their lives around trying to avoid bullets.

“We used to keep our dog outside, we can’t keep our dog outside anymore,” said Wise. “We don’t have cookouts, we mow on Mondays, whether it rains or shines, because they’re closed on Mondays because then we’re safe. It’s crazy that something can’t be done. It’s just crazy.”