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Investigation: Did Bullet That Struck House Come From State Police Gun Range?

There is a stray bullet investigation ongoing in the south of Michigan, in Northville Township. A window was shattered on about the 10th or 11th of October, 2017. I am skeptical of these type of incidents. They are quite rare. The image of an Iraqi woman showing investigators two complete rifle cartridges, that supposedly hit her residence, is memorable.

This incident appears to be real, not a hoax like the famous Iraqi incident. The window was shattered. It was broken in a believable way. The bullet was found with the shattered glass. The bullet looks fresh and has rifling marks. From clickondetroit.com:

Last year, two homes were hit by stray bullets. The gun range was shut down and modifications were made to ensure the neighborhood’s safety.

Now, another home was hit by a bullet.

A resident on Crestview Circle came home to find his front door shattered and a bullet on the ground.

The Northville Township Police Department investigated and passed the recovered bullet on to MSP to see if it is one their rounds.

The distance from the Michigan State Police Laboratory and the broken window is 2,460 feet, or 820 yards. The google maps image below shows the geometry. The direction of fire would have been nearly due South, as is shown in the image.

The  distance is well within the maximum range of common pistol bullets. From the picture, I cannot tell if the projectile is a 9 mm or a .40 caliber. It might even be a .45 auto bullet. The Michigan State Police range is behind the Forensic laboratory. That puts it in a reasonable place to supply the bullet for the incident.

There was little energy left in the pistol bullet at that range. It would have been traveling down at a pretty steep angle. The velocity was probably in the 200-300 fps range. The combination of low velocity and a steep angel fits well with only the outside glass being broken. The glass and bullet fell outside. The inner, unbroken glass would direct the fragments to the outside, as there was not enough energy remaining to break the inside panes.

No one knows for certain if the bullet came from the Michigan Police Forensic Laboratory range. The distance is plausible. The bullet is plausible. The angles and damage are plausible.  The rifling marks are clear. If there is a close match to a gun fired at the range that day, the circumstantial evidence will be complete.

Investigators at the MSP Forensics lab are baffled, because the range has been specifically altered to make such an event impossible. But the possibility of human error is near infinite. What if the pistol was fired, at a high angle, by negligence, *before* being put in play at the range? A firearms instructor told me of exactly such an incident (that did not result in any damage), involving an officer.

Many modern handguns use barrels that leave almost no distinguishing marks on the bullets fired. You can usually narrow the firearm down to a make and model or series of models. The manufacturing techniques have become so good, the barrels in some makes are extremely uniform. There are not sufficient differences in barrels to differentiate bullets fired from individual pistols.

No one was hit. The danger was fairly small. If hit just wrong, an adult could have lost an eye or a couple of teeth.  A young child might have been severely wounded, possibly even killed, if hit exactly wrong. Stray bullets are a danger, but are rarely lethal. Pistol bullets, at nearly half a mile, are unlikely to break skin if the skin is protected by a layer of cloths.

If the MSP lab was involved, it is a serious embarrassment, but a cheap lesson.

Pay to fix the window and tighten up the range and firing procedures.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

Editor’s Note:  Often times it is situations like these that have homeowners calling for a gun range to be shut down.  The homeowners site the dangers, the noise and pollution as reasons to have gun ranges (usually private gun club ones) shut down.

Here’s the rub though.  Nearly ALL of the time, a gun range will open up on land far away from residential communities.  But over time with urban sprawl and suburban creep residential housing is built closer and closer to said gun range.  To the homeowners I saw, too bad.  The gun range is usually there first and if your house is in danger of being struck it is YOUR fault for building/buying a house in the vicinity.   If you don’t like hearing gun shots in the distance here’s a novel idea…DON’T BUY A HOUSE NEAR A GUN RANGE.

That’s like buying a house next to a garbage dump and complaining about the smell while arguing that the dump should be closed even though you were fully aware it existed before you bought or built your house there.

With that being said, safety standards and good gunsmanship should be adhered to at all ranges but if you move in next door to one that has been there for years, you have no right to complain about the noise.

I’m glad no one was hurt, but if I had the choice, I probably wouldn’t be living behind a gun range.

 

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