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Homeowner near state game area: 'It's a total war'

7:14 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
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A bulled pierced a wall at Bern Luurtsema's home from a nearby DNR state gaming area on Port Sheldon St. in Olive Twp. (April 4, 2013)

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- People in an Olive Township neighborhood say they're caught in the crossfire.

WZZM 13 is learning more about the state game area on 112th Avenue, where a stray bullet went into a nearby house this week. Now, homeowners on Port Sheldon Street say it's an ongoing problem and the state has done little to help.

"It's a total war and everyone is up in arms," says Bern Luurtsema, whose home was shot by a bullet from the game area. The bullet went through Luurtsema's living room, just missing his wife on the couch. "28 inches, that's how much it missed her, that's too close for comfort," says Luurtsema.

At a home across the street, Luurtsema's daughter, Kathy Schut, says bullets go flying through her backyard. "When we hear shooting we say you can't go back there to the kids," says Schut.

In Tuesday night's incident, investigators found the man who was firing a high powered rifle for target practice. Investigators say the bullet flew 3/4 of a mile into the home, but down the road, residents say in other cases bullets have traveled a full mile. One barn on 120th Avenue also had bullet holes outside and there's a school at the same distance.

"Maybe there ought to be a sign that says no rifles," says Gary Teall, who uses the game area. "If it was just shotguns, pellets, BBs, there wouldn't be a problem"

WZZM 13 asked the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department if the state should shut down the land. "That's something the state will have to decide and ponder, we've addressed situations there in the past," says Lieutenant Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.

Luurtsema is an avid hunter himself and only wants the firing range closed. "It should be open to hunting, they're misusing it."

"Does it take someone getting killed before the DNR will listen and do something?" asks Schut.

A DNR spokesman told WZZM 13 that the department is now re-evaluating the use of that land and that other game areas have been closed in the past for similar reasons.

The man who fired the rifle was not arrested, but investigators say the case is being reviewed.

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