Defense expert: Bullets from range would overshoot public areas
04/24/2012, 7:58 pm Comment on this story
Steve Stout, firstname.lastname@example.org, 815-431-4082
[img]http://mywebtimes.com/archives/photog/mednailer.php?image=http://mywebtimes.com/archives/photog/photos/mednails/04-22-12_04-28-12/04-24-12/Muffler_Evelyn.gif[/img] Photo: Steve Stout
Evelyn Muffler, President and owner of Buffalo Rock Shooting Park Speaking as a witness for the defense, a Missouri ballistic and trajectory expert testified Tuesday "it was next to an impossibility" that bullets are escaping a local shooting range state officials want kept closed due to unresolved safety issues.
Under direct questioning by range attorney Steve Pontikes of Chicago, John C. Cayton, a criminalist from Osborn, Mo., flatly stated, in his expert opinion, it was not possible to have a shot hit in nearby public recreational areas as the state contends "even if a shooter want to."
Cayton claims the power of even the smallest caliber shot directly from the range would bypass over the once closed areas of the Illinois & Michigan Canal towpath and Buffalo Rock State Park.
It was day four of a hearing to decide whether Buffalo Rock Shooting Park can open for its 2012 season.
The 41-year-old business was prevented from allowing shooters back to its firing lines by Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials when the Attorney General Office was granted a temporary restraining order on March 15.
Earlier in the hearing Monday, after state's attorneys rested their presentation, Circuit Judge Eugene P. Daugherity denied a motion filed by Pontikes to immediately dismiss the case for lack of evidence. Pontikes said the state had offered no testimony as to where any of the "so-called stray bullets" had originated.
Daugherity ruled there was enough circumstantial evidence presented by the state to continue the proceedings.
On the stand for most of the afternoon session, criminalist Cayton contradicted previous state's witnesses. He insisted a person could not hear the "whizzing" of a passing bullet overhead or tell which direction an errant shot might be coming from.
"Are bullets shot from Buffalo Rock (shooting range) falling in the state park?" Pontikes asked Cayton.
"Are bullets (from the range) hitting the I&M Canal?"
In the state's cross examination, Matthew Dunn, chief environmental litigation attorney of Chicago, showed Cayton and the court several YouTube videos of automatic weapon firings taken at the shooting range.
After one of them played, Dunn asked Cayton, "Was the muzzle creeping up on him (while firing)?"
Cayton admitted it was, but added, in his opinion, "none of those shots (depicted) left the park."
Among those watching from the courtroom's gallery Tuesday were several members of the Sandy Ford Sportsman's Club which operates its own shooting range outside Streator. Speaking for the group, club members Brian Jenson of New Lenox said members attended the hearing to show support for Buffalo Range owner Evelyn Muffler and her business.
"If the state can come after this gun range, what is to keep them from coming after ours?" asked Jensen.
The hearing continues at 10 a.m. Wednesday.