Nov 5, 2015

Hunter’s stray bullet goes through Cody area house; homeowners call for restrictions

“People really need to be a lot smarter when they’re hunting and when they’re even shooting,” said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward.

That’s his take on a Saturday incident, when an apparent errant shot from a deer hunter ripped through a home just north of Cody on Bohica Lane.

The bullet pierced the exterior wall of Bard and Allison Betz’ home — then the stairway, a door and an interior wall before finally coming to rest inside their master bedroom closet.

“It was obviously very disturbing,” Bard Betz said Wednesday.

The bullet zipped right past the right side of the Betzes' computer monitor, meaning that, “had I been sitting in that office space, I’d be dead,” Allison Betz said. Photo courtesy Park County Sheriff's Office
The couple had been sitting in their living room, around 6 p.m. Saturday, when they heard a loud crack.

As they began looking around the house, thinking it might have been an exploding lightbulb, they noticed some wood chips and fragments scattered over the kitchen and the laundry. Then, they spotted the hole in the door and realized, “Oh my God, our house has been shot,” Bard Betz recounted.

The bullet passed through a small office area underneath the staircase. If Allison Betz had happened to be sitting at the computer at the time, the bullet that whizzed through the stairs and by the monitor likely would have hit her in the chest.

“Had I been sitting in that office space, I’d be dead,” Allison Betz said.

“They’re very fortunate,” said Steward.

Patrick Harrington, a hunter who was in the area at the time of Saturday’s incident, told the Sheriff’s Office he believed he’d seen the man who fired the shot that hit the Betzs home. Harrington said the man had come off of Road 2AB and later started shooting in his direction; Harrington said he’d begun waving his arms in an effort to get the man to stop, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Wednesday news release.

Bard Betz also saw the unknown man leaving the area, but like Harrington, he didn’t get a good look.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact them at 307-527-8700.

“Everybody’s explanation is, ‘Well they didn’t hit anybody,’ or ‘Well, it’s not that much damage,’” Bard Betz said. “But eventually someone’s going to be killed, and then we’re all going to think, ‘Well gosh, they had enough warning signs, why didn’t we do something?’”

In the news release, Steward warned that hunters are responsible for their bullets and that they need to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

He said in an interview that some hunters wound an animal and get so focused on bringing it down that “they go to just throwing lead and not paying attention to where they’re shooting.”

It’s not the first time that a local home has been accidentally shot:

The Betzs said a neighbor’s house was struck a number of years ago.

Steward said one South Fork couple has had their home hit twice in the past five or so years. One time, he said, the woman heard a crash and opened the kitchen cabinet to find that a stray bullet had shattered some of the dishes.


The sheriff also recalled that, about a decade ago on the South Fork, a shot passed right over a bed where a girl typically did her homework; fortunately, the girl wasn’t home that night.

Saturday’s incident came up briefly at Tuesday’s county commission meeting and Clerk of District Court Patra Lindenthal wondered why someone would shoot close to a home.

“Because (of) idiots,” said county commissioner and Wapiti resident Lee Livingston. “Trust me. We have it happen all the time.”

The Betzs think it’s time to do something about it, calling for some kind of new regulations that limit the kind of firearms you can hunt with in residential areas like theirs.

“Shooting this way, you’re shooting into houses and horses and kids,” Bard Betz said.

He and his wife worry what could happen if nothing changes.

“Everybody’s explanation is, ‘Well they didn’t hit anybody,’ or ‘Well, it’s not that much damage,’” Bard Betz said. “But eventually someone’s going to be killed, and then we’re all going to think, ‘Well gosh, they had enough warning signs, why didn’t we do something?’”

As a possible example, he noted some states limit hunters to only using shotguns in certain areas. He said people he’s spoken with so far have generally agreed that “it’s just nuts that you’re firing high-powered rifles in a congested area like this.”

The stray bullet also tore through an interior door. Photo courtesy Park County Sheriff's Office
For his part, sheriff Steward says he’s not sure what kind of regulations would succeed in solving the problem. He noted it’s already illegal to shoot in someone else’s direction.

“That pretty much covers all these residential areas, because you’re basically shooting at somebody’s house or towards something,” Steward said. “So the law is in place right now; people just are not adhering to it.”

Since Saturday, Allison Betz said she’s kept a closer eye on the people coming and going on their road — and she noticed her heart rate speed up a little when she went to check her email.

“We’ve been out here 16 years and it’s never happened, so the chances of it happening again are probably very slim,” Allison Betz said. “But wouldn’t that be a tragedy to have one of these little kids (in the neighborhood) shot, or anybody?”

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Copyright © Cody News Company | Powered by Blogger

Design by Anders Noren | Blogger Theme by NewBloggerThemes.com