ORRINGTON, Maine — The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation into reports that five stray bullets whizzed through the treetops over a logger working off Perkins Point Road.
The incident raised safety concerns for Orrington resident Jerry Perkins, who owns 375 acres off Perkins Point Road, and for Dustin Young, a commercial logger from Waltham who was harvesting lumber on Perkins’ land when the incident reportedly occurred on Jan. 30.
Perkins said earlier this month that he believes the bullets were fired from the Orrington Rod and Gun Club’s rifle range, located on East Bucksport Road. The club’s property abuts Perkins’ land.
James Goody, the club’s president, disputed that the bullets originated at the rifle range. He did say, however, that the club inspected the range berms and decided to increase the height of the berms to make sure stray bullets never escape the property.
“They’ve cooperated with us. They provided us with photos and video footage,” Deputy Chad Young said Wednesday of rod and gun club officials.
“We know who was there, when they were there, what they were shooting,” he said.
Young said, however, that a review of the footage and still photographs showed no misconduct or reckless behavior on the part of club members who were using the club’s rifle range when the stray bullets were reported.
Young and Sgt. Jon Carson said last week that there was no way to say for sure whether the stray bullets originated at the club’s facilities, located on East Bucksport Road.
Carson noted that the club’s rifle range faces the area in which the bullets were reported. He said Google Earth indicated that the range is 950 yards — just over half a mile — from the location in which Young was logging, “so it’s a pretty good distance.”
Carson said that surveillance images showed two people using the range around the time that the five bullets reportedly passed through trees on Perkins’ land. One was firing a .22-caliber rifle and the other a .303-caliber rifle, he said. Both of the shooters were using tripods for increased accuracy, he said.
Both members signed in before using the range but were gone by the time Young arrived to investigate, Carson said.
Carson noted that sport shooting ranges are largely unregulated by state law.
In addition, there is no local ordinance regarding shooting ranges. An effort to pass an ordinance regulating the town’s gun club and any future shooting ranges was shot down by voters during the June 2007 annual town meeting.
Carson said state law prohibits hunting within 300 feet of the nearest residence but that law does not come into play for the Jan. 30 incident.
Young said earlier this month that police field occasional complaints about after-hours shooting at the club’s facilities. He noted, however, that it had been several years since problems with stray bullets had been reported before the call from Perkins.
Perkins said last week that although he hasn’t heard of any other stray bullets since the Jan. 30 incident, he remains concerned about the safety of the eight households in his neighborhood along Brewer Lake and for those harvesting wood on his land or using his property for hunting and snowmobiling.