Charge Filed After Woman Hit by Target Shooters

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a criminal charge for reckless handling of a firearm after another target shooting incident in which errant rounds caused damage on nearby properties. This time, a woman was injured.

On Sunday afternoon, deputies were called to a scene were a woman had been struck by a bullet outside her home. They determined the shots were fired from a nearby property on Gable Farm Lane east of Hamilton where residents were target shooting on private property.

The bullet, which is estimated to have been shot from 1,800 to 2,000 feet away, grazed the woman’s shoulder and may have then ricocheted off the victim’s house. She was treated at the scene and did not require further medical treatment.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, two adult males and two adult females were shooting into a natural berm. One person has been charged, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office had not released their names pending service of the charge.

The Sheriff’s Office has custody of all the firearms that were in use at the private shooting range.

It is only the latest is a series of incidents in which bullets from target shooting ranges have left the shooter’s property and struck somewhere else, including an incident in late 2018 in which fully automatic weapon fire struck homes in Willowsford. At two of those houses, people were home. One family was outside, and one person lying on the couch holding his baby when a bullet struck nearby.

The Board of Supervisors has so far declined to enact tighter restrictions on where guns can be fired in Loudoun, and the Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office have not obtained any convictions in the recent target shooting incidents.

Supervisors last year sought recommendations from a gun safety working group, which was made up of the County Attorney, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the county Department of Mapping and Geographic Information, the Sheriff’s Office, and representatives from four hunting organizations. That group recommended only minor changes to the county’s gun rules.

The board’s Transportation and Land Use Committee voted against all of those recommendations except one: exploring the possibility of requiring berms for target shooting on private property. That vote was taken in February, with no further public action since.

While the Board of Supervisors’ three Democrats have consistently pushed for tighter gun safety rules, the board’s Republican majority has been split. Some Republicans, like Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run), have supported some updates to Loudoun’s gun rules; others, including Transportation and Land Use Committee Chairman Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), have opposed any change to Loudoun’s rules.

Sunday’s shooting—the first to result in an injury—prompted renewed calls for action.

“While I’m grateful the latest shooting incident in a heavily populated area of Loudoun did not result in loss of life, I don’t believe the safety of Loudoun’s families should be left to chance,” wrote County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) in a statement Monday. “Loudoun County has seen over eight incidents of stray bullets from backyard shooting ranges in the last eighteen months.”

Meyer joined the chorus of concern in a Facebook post.

“Houses getting shot in Western Loudoun have become a monthly occurrence, and now this,” Meyer wrote. “None of the house shootings have been successfully prosecuted during this Board term, and we should all hope this shooter will face justice—but without County law changes, it is doubtful.”

After the shooting, Higgins, Del. Dave Dave A. LaRock (R-33), and Caleb Kerschner, the Republican nominee to take Higgins’s place on the county dais, issued a joint press release which avoided mentioning any possible changes to law but quotes LaRock as saying he takes “any activity or incident which involves public safety very seriously.”

“Sheriff Mike Chapman is investigating this incident and if that investigation reveals that laws governing the use of firearms have been violated, I am confident the persons found to be at fault will be held accountable,” LaRock stated.

The press release asserts “Western Loudoun is a mix of clustered homes and large tracts of land used for agriculture where guns are a necessity.”

Higgins did not respond to a request for comment.

16 thoughts on “Charge Filed After Woman Hit by Target Shooters

  • 2019-09-10 at 4:33 pm

    I think we can be sure that Geary Higgins will try to figure out a way to split the difference…do nothing for people concerned about neighborhood gunplay and do nothing to annoy the gun enthusiasts who feel empowered to make noise that doesn’t stop at their property line.

    This is why we have shooting ranges. They’re safe, protected by the 2nd Amendment and don’t annoy or endanger people who have the misfortune of living near a gun enthuisast.

  • 2019-09-10 at 9:26 pm

    Thank G*d no one was seriously injured, though some people probably suffered some significant emotional trauma.

    Anyone who recklessly and negligently endangers someone ought to be prosecuted to the extent of the law. It doesn’t matter if this happens with a car, a hammer or a firearm. If the people firing on their property were reckless then they need to face the consequences.

    “More laws” is the first thing we hear for everything these days. Yet all too often we don’t or can’t enforce laws on the books.

    The Willowford shooting of 2018 was inexcusable. But even “more laws” wouldn’t have helped in that case. Law enforcement didn’t have enough evidence to file charges against anyone. They literally didn’t know who was present, who fired the gun, and under what circumstances. It’s hard to charge an invisible and absent person. In the Hamilton case, it appears current laws are sufficient to hold people accountable.

    I’d be shocked if people are shooting Loudoun County homes on a monthly basis. If the politician has stats please post them. Otherwise, we can do without the hyperbole. I do know daily shootings in some urban centers around the country are quite common, but to say that is the norm in Loudoun County is misleading at best.

    I firmly believe the right to keep and bear arms carries the responsibility to do so safely. I know for a fact that no everyone aspires to this goal. I have had to leave the shooting line at one local indoor range because my neighbors weren’t safely handling firearms. If you are going to own and use firearms, and I think everyone should for a variety of reasons, you really must learn to do so safely. Even a momentary lapse can have life altering consequences.

    The injured resident has civil recourse in this case also. Reckless behavior does need to be dealt with proportionately. The 2nd Amendment is not a license to shoot up the local saloon!

    • 2019-09-12 at 6:27 pm

      —->”If the people firing on their property were reckless then they need to face the consequences.”

      And if they weren’t reckless, then the people regulating the property need to face the consequences. Under NO circumstances should this be allowed in Loudoun County or anywhere.

      Responsible gun owners should be very concerned that guns are being misused to the endangerment of our citizenry. Anything less is unacceptable.

      • 2019-09-13 at 10:46 am

        “Reckless” has specific meaning in legal terms. One can have an accident without necessarily being reckless. I looked at the map of this area. I also visited the Willowford area a year or so ago. Maybe everyone ought to do the same.

        You seemed to ignore my call for a thorough investigation and charges. You seem to ignore the fact I stated the same call to responsible gun use by responsible people. I know what it is like to have loaded guns pointed at me.

        It would be a good thing if people read all the comments before they posted and not try and post something out of context. I am a member of the NRA, GOA and VCDL. I support a full investigation by the LCSO and would support charges against those who have broken laws and endangered their neighbors.

        • 2019-09-28 at 7:12 pm

          As someone said: Facts Still Matter.

          Fact 1: Someone fires a weapon within range of neighbors
          Fact 2: A person nearby is wounded by a bullet

          What more do you need to know. After an investigation by the LCSO, the shooter has been charged and weapons confiscated.

          The current law in Western Loudoun is that you can’t discharge a weapon within 300 feet of an occupied building (and other limitations…). This is absolutely ludicrous. I can hit my wedge that far. I can see at least 12 houses from my house yet based on this law, I can walk around my neighborhood firing a gun and be perfectly legal. What is wrong with this picture??? Clearly, the law is absurd.

          —-> “I’d be shocked if people are shooting Loudoun County homes on a monthly basis.”
          Eight homes were struck by gunfire. Charges were brought against some of the shooters. You don’t seem to understand – once is too often.

          And for what? So some people can get their jollies target shooting in their back yard? That’s more important than families being able to live safely and securely in their homes? You need to get your priorities straight.

          The law needs to be changed. Now. Before someone is “accidentally” killed.

          —> “I am a member of the NRA, GOA and VCDL”
          Says it all.

  • 2019-09-11 at 7:31 am

    Overheard this the other day: the fastest way to fix the gun problem in the US would be to start funding a campaign promoting black and hispanic people openly carrying weapons. Right-wing gun nuts would have a cow and we’d start seeing some “common-sense” gun regulations in a hurry.

    • 2019-09-11 at 11:17 am

      You aren’t wrong. The NRA, Ronald Reagan, and other right winged conservatives backed gun control (Mulford Act) in the 1960’s when the Black Panthers were openly arming themselves.

    • 2019-09-11 at 11:56 am

      Every right wing gun nut I know would love to see more people of color and cultures practicing their second amendment right.
      But nice way to bring up race where race was never a factor.

      • 2019-09-12 at 7:12 am

        The point was to take note of the surprising large intersection between gun nuts and right wing racists and focus on the opportunity that might offer to do something about the gun problem we have in American society.

  • 2019-09-11 at 11:35 am

    So you watched Dave Chapelle’s Sticks and Stones special, Facts? Awesome, wasn’t it?

    As an ardent supporter of the Bill of Rights, I strongly encourage everyone, regardless of race, sex, creed, or religion, whatever, to fully engage their civil rights. I’m not sacred of people of another race exercising their rights. Only rich democrats who live in gated communities are.

  • 2019-09-11 at 12:49 pm

    That comment was form Dave Chappelle’s Netflix comedy special.

  • 2019-09-11 at 5:35 pm

    I am an Anglo-American. I am a conservative in every sense of the word. I support all citizens and legal residents exercising all their rights, all the time, regardless of race, color, creed and sexual orientation. That old canard about “redneck, gun-totting, racists NRA members” has worn thin except in the fevered minds of progressives. I’d like to think the residents here in Loudoun County are better than that. Please, don’t prove otherwise.

    Remember, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican and a gun owner. He applied for a concealed carry license at one time, and Democrats denied his application. There is no record of whether Dr. King was a member of the NRA.

    • 2019-09-12 at 4:18 pm

      Not sure what your comment has to do with the fact that this woman was grazed by a bullet near her home. Nobody has a right to endanger people with careless gunfire.

  • 2019-09-12 at 4:36 pm

    This has got to stop. How is it possible that occupied houses and people in their yards without kevlar are in the way of our fine citizens exercising their right to shoot their firearms. These shooters should bring a lawsuit against this woman for getting in the way of their fun.

  • 2019-09-14 at 7:50 am

    VCDL? That’s the group that’s too rabid for the NRA. I think we know how to judge your “call to reason”

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