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Community concerned over reckless target practice in the rural Jackson area

Posted at 8:25 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 20:25:59-05

LANSING, Mich. — Many people move out to rural areas to try to avoid noise and crime, not to be right in the middle of it.

In rural Jackson County, it's a case of reckless target practice that has people finding bullets near their homes. In one case, a horse was fatally shot.

Darlene, a long-time resident of Blackman Township, is still mourning after her horse was shot and killed when she says her neighbor's target practice got out of hand.

"I am sick at heart and I am devastated."

Darlene still can't talk about what happened to her horse, Dakota, without bursting into tears.

"I don't know how else to put it," said Darlene. "I'm heartbroken, having to watch her die was awful."

Unable to go on, she said on Sunday, Dec. 22, bullets flew from a house behind her hitting Dakota and resulting in the horse's death.

When community members heard what happened, not only did they feel for Darlene..but also feared for the area.

"I do hear shots quite often and it's always shocking and surprising to me in a rural area," said Laura Hauenstein, a concerned community member. "You still have cars driving by and people are out walking their dogs, it just seems like a very dangerous idea to shoot."

Hauenstein, the founder of Reality's Chance Rescue and Sanctuary, said they even have found bullets graze close to their horses too over the years.

"They came on to our property and actually kicked up dust probably 15 steps from fenced up pasture where we had horses."

Both Darlene and Hauenstein say they just want people to be responsible while shooting during target practice.

"None of us are saying don't shoot your gun, but I think there is a time and place to recreational shoot and it's not where you are surrounded by housing and animals," said Hauenstein.

Blackman-Leoni Township Public Sagety tell Fox 47 the case of unintentionally killing of Darlene's horse was reported as a reckless discharge of a firearm and that the gun used was confiscated.

The director of public safety says this is the first time he's had the death of a horse be the result of irresponsible target practice.

But both police and the community hope it's the last.

"To lose a horse so unnecessarily, it's devastating," said Hauenstein.

Police submitted their report to the Jackson County prosecuting office to see if criminal charges will be issued.

The prosecuting attorney tells Fox 47 they are reviewing the report and no charges have been placed at this time.

Jackson County Prosecuting office says there is no timetable for making a decision, but expect to make a charging decision in the near future.

Reckless use of a firearm is a misdemeanor and punishable with fines and jail time.

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