Prosecutors won’t issue charges in gun club incident

Ottawa County prosecutors won't be bringing charges in the case of a shooting incident last month at the North Ottawa Rod and Gun Club involving members of the Grand Valley State University Police Department.
Alex Doty
Oct 14, 2011


In a statement released Thursday by Ottawa County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Mesman, he said the purpose of his office in reviewing the incident was to determine if an individual acted in a careless or reckless manner that would rise to a criminal act.

“Based on that limited role to determine criminal responsibility only, it is the determination of the prosecutor’s office that no charges can be brought as a result of this investigation,” Mesman said. “There is not enough evidence to determine whether the shots that struck the individual or houses on Sept. 29 were fired recklessly or carelessly — or, for that matter, which officer actually fired those shots.”

The investigation by prosecutors was brought on by a Sept. 29 incident in which a contractor working in the Cutter Park subdivision, about a half-mile east of the gun club, was hit in the arm.

According to the official investigation, at the time of the shooting, two full-time GVSU campus police officers were training five part-time officers at the gun range. During the training, more than one bullet left the range, with one of them striking the contractor in the arm.

Mesman said during the course of the investigation, it was determined that there were at least eight stray bullets that had struck homes in the Cutter Park subdivision.

In a statement released by the gun club on Tuesday, it was indicated that the club’s Board of Directors would keep the outdoor range closed indefinitely until officials from the club had a chance to review the incident in more detail.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



In my opinion the gun club range should be reopened and the range should be supervised by only qualified range safety officers (RSO) to prevent problems like this. This incident would have never happened if a knowledgeable and competent RSO was in charge of the range at the time of the ricochet.

As far as who is at fault for the out of range ricochet rounds on the 29th of September. The RSO running the GVSU training is 100% liable for any and all incidents that occur during the training under his watch. The RSO in this case was negligent in following standard outdoor shooting range protocol by allowing the placement of the shoot-thru targets to be set more than 50 feet from the back stop. I have trained shooters at multiple outdoor ranges throughout the years. When I work as an RSO the safety of the range is my responsibility and I am personally held liable for any safety infraction that causes damage or injury while on watch. If the RSO did not understand this basic rule of target placement then he or she should not be an RSO. Unfortunately ignorance of standard protocol by a shooting instructor is not a defense that can hold water in a court of law.


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