ORRINGTON, Maine – Two rifle bullets have been found in town at separate locations in a span of just over two weeks, and some locals believe they came from the Orrington Rod and Gun Club.
Police say there is no way to know definitely where the spent bullets originated, but add that it’s feasible they could have come from the club, which is located about a mile from both locations.
“All I can say is that it’s possible,” Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Troy Morton said Wednesday. “Because of the caliber of the bullets and the direction [of the homes relative to the club] it’s a possibility. But there is no way of knowing.”
While police investigate the found bullets, residents who live near the town’s only gun range say they are certain the stray bullets originated from the club.
“We, who are in line of these projectiles, all know where it came from and evidence is mounting,” Jerry Perkins, a Perkins Point Road resident, said in a Monday e-mail to town officials.
Morton, who works part-time in town, was working when both bullets were found and reported.
The first bullet, a .223-caliber rifle shot, was found Aug. 17 lying on the floor of a home under construction on Perkins Road.
“They were cleaning up [at the construction site] and there was a bullet lying on the floor,” Morton said.
The second bullet, which was sent to a lab to determine its caliber, was found on Sunday lying on the driveway of a home on Rocky Shore Drive.
The second bullet is “not a .223”-caliber round, Morton said. “It’s a larger rifle bullet.”
There is no way of knowing if the bullets were shot and landed where they were found, or if they were dropped there, he said.
After the first bullet was re-ported to Morton, he went to the gun club to investigate, said Sgt. Jon Carson, Orrington’s community policing supervisor for the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department.
“Nobody was shooting with a .223 [caliber rifle] that day,” he said. “There is no way to tie that bullet to the gun club.”
Empty shells matching the caliber of the found bullets were located on the ground at the gun club, but there is no way of knowing how long they had been there, Morton said.
The gun club opened 22 years ago on East Bucksport Road, and over the years homes have popped up on neighboring properties, encroaching on the range.
Local homeowners, including Perkins, spurred a movement last year to establish municipal rules regarding maintaining safety and site inspections, which was shot down by town residents at the June 2007 annual town meeting.
Over the last two decades, the club has added components or changed items in response to residents’ requests and concerns, and club members recently voted to make more safety upgrades, Morton said.
Target shooting is allowed in town as long as it is done at least 300 feet from residences, Carson said.
There are gravel pits on East Bucksport Road that people use for target practice, which are not owned or regulated by the gun club, Morton said.
“It’s difficult to say exactly where these [bullets] are coming from,” Morton said.