Officer’s stray bullet hits houseJAMESTOWN, N.D. - Following a close call with a stray bullet, the peace officers’ pistol range on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds is temporarily closed while a committee studies options to increase safety.
By: Jackie Hyra, The Jamestown Sun, Worthington Daily Globe
JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Following a close call with a stray bullet, the peace officers’ pistol range on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds is temporarily closed while a committee studies options to increase safety.
According to Stutsman County Sheriff David Orr, at 11:45 a.m. on July 24, Si and Martha Liechty, who live three-quarters of a mile northwest of the fairgrounds, were in their yard when a bullet hit their house and bounced off onto the ground.
“It landed right by our feet,’ Martha Liechty said. “We’ve heard them shoot a lot out there, but I never thought a bullet would travel this far.”
Orr said the bullet was fired by a highway patrolman at the range. He said this is the first time a bullet has gone beyond the 25-foot berm at the shooting range.
“We’ve never had a problem before,” Orr said, but he added, “It’s serious. We’ve got to get this resolved.”
Orr said the pistol range was built more than 20 years ago, when there were no nearby houses and few activities at the fairgrounds other than the annual county fair. Since then, houses have gone up around the pistol range, and the fairground is now used for many activities in addition to the fair, including car racing, motocross, mud drags and the rodeo.
Jamestown Chief of Police David Donegan said the pistol range is not open to the public but is used heavily for training purposes and practice by members of the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, Jamestown Police Department, North Dakota Highway Patrol, Parole and Probations, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, James River Corrections Center and Stutsman County Correctional Center. A committee made up of representatives of each oversees the range and has discussed the need for change.
“We’ve discussed a lot of options,” Donegan said.
He said the berm would have to be raised to 40 feet to make the range safer.
“That would be a temporary solution,” Donegan said, because of the number or houses being built in the area.
Orr said using the Pipestem firing range isn’t an option because it’s open to the public and the Corps of Engineers doesn’t allow it to be reserved.
He said the committee has looked into moving the range farther out of town. That option would be very expensive.
“To find another place, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has to inspect it, and that’s $125,000,” Orr said. “It might be better at that price to build an indoor range.”
Donegan said the cost of any solution will have to be spread across all the agencies that use the range, because none have extra money in their budgets to cover a large expense.
In the meantime, Orr said the pistol range will remain closed until the committee implements a plan to increase public safety.