Bullet whizzes overhead

Ruth Luurtsma wasn’t supposed to be home when a bullet went whizzing through her family room Tuesday night.
Becky Vargo
Apr 4, 2013

“We were supposed to go away, but I wasn’t feeling good,” she said Wednesday.

“I’m home alone. I was laying down, reading — in the family room,” she said. “I heard this loud noise.”

Luurtsma’s first thought was that a light bulb exploded, but the lights were all fine. Then, she saw a dust cloud.

“I jumped up. I ran in the garage. My dog was hiding behind my vehicle. He heard it too,” Luurtsma said.

Luurtsma called her husband, who was just across the street at their daughter’s house. The couple looked around the home, and that’s when they found a hole on the east side of the family room.

The homeowner said they went inside the house and found a wall hole about 28 inches above the couch where she’d been resting. A second, larger hole was found on the north wall of the room with a bullet lodged inside.

Luurtsma said they looked for a bullet because other area residents have had property damaged by bullets shot from a nearby state game area.

Luurtsma, who was not injured, said it was upsetting but not a surprise.

Police responded to the Luurtsma’s home on the 11000 block of Port Sheldon Road at about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday after they called 911 for help.

Deputies from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the Olive Township State Game Area, located on 112th Avenue south of Port Sheldon Road. It is about three-quarters of a mile away from the house.

Lt. Mark Bennett said they found a Holland Township man in his late 20s sighting in a gun.

“It was a 7.62 Russian rifle, similar to a 223,” Bennett said of the gun.

The man told police he’d aimed the gun at a target, took the shot and the bullet went right through the target.

“He was very cooperative,” Bennett said. “It wasn’t intended, but it certainly was an act of concern.”

Bennett said once the investigation was finished, a full report would be turned over to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Right now, it’s legal to hunt, shoot and target practice on that land, as long as it’s done in a safe manner,” Bennett said. “That’s the crux of the investigation.”

Local conservation officer Gerard Goulette said area is a popular spot for target shooters. He noted that he regularly stops to talk to people about which guns they should use.

“When you come there with a rifle, for example, you need to know 100 percent that there is something there that will stop the bullet,” he said. “You’re still responsible for the bullet, even if it leaves the area and strikes a house.”

Possible charges that could come out of this incident include misdemeanors of careless or reckless discharge of a firearm, Goulette said.

Goulette said Wednesday morning he hadn’t seen a report on the incident.

Holland resident Steve Roodhouse, who was slinging clay pigeons at the state game area Wednesday afternoon, hadn’t heard about the incident but was disappointed it had happened.

“It’s too bad,” he said. “Something like that just means people are going to be taking a closer look at these little areas.”

Roodhouse, a member of Tulip City Rod and Gun Club, said he has taken gun safety classes and takes precautions when he uses firearms.

“I’m using target shells to test the gun,” he said, noting that the shells have a lower velocity.

He also noted the direction he was shooting. If he tossed a clay pigeon too far to the north, he didn’t take a shot.

“There’s buildings over there,” he said as he pointed into the distance. “I don’t want to take a chance.”

Luurtsma said too many shooters have been taking too many chances in the 47 years she’s lived in her Port Sheldon Road home.

“They come with their big guns. They don’t realize the bullets can fly five miles,” she said.

Luurtsma noted that South Olive Christian School is on 120th Avenue, straight west of the state land.

“Some of the bullets have landed on the other side of 120th in a brick house there,” she said.

Other neighbors have had bullets hit their outbuildings, too, and she recently learned of a bullet that flew over her 12-year-old grandson’s head when he was in the yard.

“I took him over to the township and complained,” she said. “The township has a file they are keeping.”

Luurtsma said two township officials visited her husband Wednesday afternoon and “were very upset” about the incident.

“The neighbors should not have to worry about mowing their lawns,” she said. “The kids should not have to worry about playing in their yards.”

Luurtsma recommended the state game area be closed to firearm use.

“Does somebody have to get killed before something happens,” she questioned. “I would hate to have a child get killed at the school because the people in charge are not getting the message.”

Comments

Wingmaster

Ok, so now we are getting some info in a report that helps. Thank you.

If there is not a suitable backstop in this area to shoot at, then it should be off limits to rifle shooting. If he was not reckless in discharging the weapon he should not be charged with anything. Sounds like this spot is a known spot to shoot and legal to do so. It also appears he was shooting here with that in mind as he was cooperative in the investgation. What's still missing here is what was his target or backstop. If its not safe to shoot a rifle here it should be stopped before someone is injured or god forbid killed.

Wingmaster

Another title for your piece could have been "Accidental stray bullet shooter cooperative in investigation". But then that would not be as attention grabbing as bullet whizzing overhead now would it!

bigdeal

LOL, good one!

GH55

Comparing what one guy is doing with a shotgun and another with a rifle is not appropriate.
Also, a 7.62mm is a .30 caliber not a .223, that would be a 5.56mm. Quite a different beast. The 7.62mm, typical, is more thn twice as heavy as the 5.56mm. The lethal range of these, 5.56mm and 7.62mm, (typical), is 900m and 1500m! So shooting a rifle in an area such as this with no effective backstop is asking for trouble.

RenegadeX

Would you please, PLEASE stop confusing the issue with facts! He's using a gun and everyone knows that guns are dangerous, ergo he should not be using any gun there! Seriously, thank you for the balistics info. Good stuff.

rukidding

Another title could be; Woman almost killed while husband is with another woman."

Wingmaster

Lol, like Paul Harvey used to say... "so now you know the rest of the story".

retired DOC

Just what angle to you have to point the gun in order for the round to go 5 miles?

bunnylou

Would also love to know the real distance that this particular gun's bullet can go. 22's supposedly can go a mile. More? Can we have an expert opinion please. I'm really tired of these trivial gun problems that are being glorified and magnified by the media. I'll be nice and hope we get "EXPERT DOCUMENTATION" and not the opinion of the tribune team.

christopher

Please stop with the anti-gun hype. While there is an issue here, the story seems to be designed to engage readers instead of tell the full story. Facts and non-bias coverage please.

truthhurts

better read a different paper....this is the tribune

Wingmaster

Ditto christopher. Not only is there the standard biases reporting in this story the reporting is changing from the two stories reported on the incident. No wonder there is so much distrust in the gun community and hysteria in the non gun community as they try to make sense of any kind of news regarding guns.

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