Gun range comes under fire from neighbors

The local pistol and rifle range remains closed, coming into one of the busiest times of the year, as police continue an investigation into a shooting incident that left one man injured and several homes damaged in a nearby subdivision. A large group of residents from the Cutter Park subdivision showed up at the monthly board meeting of the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club on Monday night to express their concerns about the club's activities.
Becky Vargo
Oct 4, 2011

Officials said a group of police officers from Grand Valley State University were training at the club Thursday morning when some of their bullets apparently traveled about a half-mile east into the subdivision, striking a contractor and some of the homes.

University officials said they are fully cooperating in the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into the incident, but declined further comments.

Jeremey Wilder, one of the residents whose home was hit by a bullet earlier this year, read a letter asking the board to completely shut down “all use of the rifle and pistol range until a full investigation by the Ottawa County Sheriff is complete.”

He was acting as one of the spokespersons for a group of neighbors who had met at his home the previous night.

Wilder said he discovered the bullet hole in the siding above the garage door about six months ago and thought it was from one of his children using a slingshot. Once he heard about the man being injured at a neighbor’s house, he investigated further and found a bullet lodged in the board underneath the siding.

Police were initially contacted Thursday morning after a contractor working at a house on Acacia Street went to the hospital with a bullet wound. His supervisor, who asked not to be identified, said the man was hit in the arm and was doing well.

During Monday’s meeting, OCSD Undersheriff Greg Steigenga told the crowd that officers had searched the area, as well as responded to neighbors calls, once the incident was reported. He said the investigation was expected to be completed by Wednesday, then turned over to the Ottawa County prosecuting attorney’s office. Once the prosecutor is done addressing the case, the report would be available through the Freedom of Information Act, Steigenga said.

Earlier in the day Monday, Lori Wilder pointed out that the bullet that struck their house hit in the area of their bedroom.

“A little higher (and) it could have been in our bedroom,” she said. “A little lower, it could have hit our cars or one of our kids.”

The Wilders have lived in the subdivision for eight years. Lori said their children are older and are handling the situation OK; but other children are asking if it is safe to play outside, while others are scared and having nightmares.

“We feel really fortunate right now that we’re not dealing with a tragedy,” Lori Wilder said.

Another neighbor, Rick Blazer, asked for assurance from the Rod and Gun Club Board that the club wouldn’t open the range before meeting with the Cutter Park neighbors.

Mark Welch, president of the gun club board, told those attending Monday’s meeting that the board was concerned about everyone’s safety; and would keep the rifle and pistol range closed until further notice, pending the investigation.

He noted that a popular monthly event had been canceled Saturday, almost without notice.

Monday afternoon, Welch said that the club becomes very busy because they have sight-in days for hunters a couple of weeks before gun season opens on Nov. 15.

“It’s a busy couple of weeks,” he said. “We usually have extra safety people out there.”

Welch also explained to the group that the trap and skeet shooting areas are separate from the rifle and pistol range because they are located farther from the subdivision, and the guns have a much shorter range. This area has also been closed pending the investigation.

Gun club officials confirmed after the meeting that the skeet and trap ranges will re-open on Wednesday. The hours of operation are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The outdoor (rifle and pistol) ranges remain closed.

The board was asked if any modifications had been made to the club since the ranges were constructed.

Welch said several modifications had been made to the facilities since the range was built in the late 1960s to early 1970s.

Board member Ethan Barnett said the most recent improvement had been a grading of the rifle range so that the target was 7 feet lower than where the shooters were standing.

Barnett noted this was not in response to any specific incident, but to make things safer.

At the end of the meeting, Jeremey Wilder said: “Personally I would like to see the outdoor rifle and pistol range enclosed or moved to a different location.”

Welch said the board would review the reports before making any determination on what needed to be done.

“While we used to be in splendid isolation, that is no longer the case,” Welch said about the gun club’s location near the subdivision.

Construction for the Cutter Park subdivision began about 12 years ago.

The gun club is on 160th Avenue, off Ferris Street. The Cutter Park subdivision is about a half-mile to the east, located between Ferris and Lincoln streets.

To see more photos from the meeting, click here.

Comments

T-Bone

I agree with you 100%. The responsible party here is the Township who allowed the subdivision to be put in where it is, in that close of proximity to the gun range. The gun range does also bear responsibility to keep all projectiles enclosed regardless who the party was that fired them. They needed to supervise the group that did it much better than was done.

How can this happen

I realize the gun club has been there for decades. However, that does not give them the right to use the houses for target practice. They must remain closed and I wonder how the drinking water is with all of the lead in the ground. Someone should call the EPA to examine the grounds. You can't even open an outdoor gun range today. There is a reason for that. They are unsafe unless you have hundreds of acres. Sorry Rod and Gun Club...make it safe or goodbye.

Say No To Tourist's

Are you people that seriously stupid?????????????????????? (1) GVSU WAS THERE WITH THERE OWN RANGE OFFICER (2) A NORGC range saftey officer is NOT required to be on the range when police are doing there training (3) members arent even allowed to shoot on the range during these training excersizes. This goes for the Grand Haven Police Dept and other law enforcement agency's that use the club for training.......So explain how this is the clubs fault??????? ITS NOT!!!!!!! For all you stupid people that just sit and type away, deal with the facts! not whats in that PEE sized brain of yours!!!!!!!!! THIS WAS GVSU'S FAULT AND THERE RANGE SAFTEY OFFICER!!!!!! not the gun clubs!!!!!!!!

ohwell

Say No To Tourist's.....stop using common sense, and logic. :)

Yaright

If they let them use their property they take on the liability/risk. That's shocking to you?? What plant do you live on?

Say No To Tourist's

Yaright, maybe so. maybe not. The responsibility is that of the range safety officer "GVSU's" to make sure there officers are safe handling a firearm. Apparently that didnt happen, now did it?
Its called accountability........Here let me spell that out for you.....Accountability is the concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences..... Now as for your comment? "What plant do you live on? " or was that planet? I live in the real world with common sence and the knowledge to safe handle any firearm. Remember guns dont kill/harm people, its the person behind the gun and there responsibility to safely discharge a weapon IE: there the ones accountable for there actions with that weapon. Please carry on with your meaningless pathetic comments, I'll look forward to replying to them.

Yaright

Your manifesto on accountability is unusual. Yes gvsu should be accountable, but to say the gun club washes their hands off accountabilty when their property is being used is odd at best. Again, this has been reported so many times it's tiring. All the bullets didn't come from this one day. It's beneficial for those looking to divert responsibilty to pretend as if that is not the case, but it's not fact based. Welcome to a fact based reality, nice to see you here

Yaright

perhaps your form of "common sence" is as stupid as your use of the word. you are claiming to have common sense, not sence, or even cents; say no....guns dont kill people, people do...here is a parallel for you...words arent stupid when they are misused by people, the people who use them are

Say No To Tourist's

Yaright, Guess I'm as stupid as you for the words were both using, nice try though.

How can this happen

@ Say No to Tourist. I feel bad that your beloved Gun Club is taking the heat. But you are seriously stupid it you think they are not at fault. Bullets can not leave the property when anyone is using the facility. The Gun Club has been around for decades spilling lead into the ground. They just got 30,000 for picking up the lead on their property. Maybe they should use that money to bring the range into the 20th century and make it safe.

Say No To Tourist's

@ How can this happen. Beloved gun club? I'm not even a member there, thanks for the laugh.

Len Painter

Please keep your comments civil and refrain from name-calling. Otherwise, we will need to remove your posts. Please follow the rules.

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