Mysterious gunshots have neighborhood on edge

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013

COLUMBIA CO., Ga. (WRDW) -- "It's loud. It scares you. I don't know what it is? I would like to know what it is? And I liked to know where it's coming from," said Ellen Labella.

Labella lives in the Harris Ridge Subdivision in Columbia County. She and her neighbors want answers.

"It is a ground shaking, window ratting loud boom," said Edgar Vaughan.

Vaughan says in his 12 years as a Navy helicopter pilot, gun shots were not rare, but he never expected to hear them here. What scares him the most -- how fellow vets might respond to the sound.

"It upsets our quiet neighborhood and neighbors. I can easily see how it would upset somebody who has been through it and has PTSD. It would set them off, it could set them off," he told News12.

Neighbors believe that's what happened to Army Reservist Andrew Prest, who lives in the same neighborhood. Deputies say last month, Prest shot two rounds at his back door after hearing what sounded like a gunshot from that direction.

"Nobody's even told us what exactly what it was," Barbara Pellegrin told News12.

Pellegrin's concerns are just like her neighbors'. Are they safe around these bullets? Is it legal? All questions these neighbors want answered, so News 12 went digging.

According to the sheriff's office, it's not a gun range. It's a property owner, who legally can shoot his guns on his own property. Deputies say he's shooting 150 feet from the road and is firing into a bank of land and there's nothing reckless about it.

"If they told me it's safe and it's legal I'll deal with it," Labella told News12.

And for now it looks like she and others will have to.

While these shots didn't come from a gun range, earlier this week, two potential gun ranges had to save their bullets, one in Harlem, the other in Grovetown. On Thursday, the Columbia County Planning Commission denied the rezoning for the one in Harlem. As for the one in Grovetown, the owners withdrew their application.

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