COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - A Collier County man called 911 after a stray bullet hit his home, while he and his family were only a few feet away inside. It happened Saturday afternoon on 2nd Street Northwest in Golden Gate Estates. According to a sheriff's report on the incident, the stray shot came from the backyard shooting range of a neighbor.
"We were just sitting here in the living room, and a bullet hit off the window," home owner Mark Jackson said in a 911 call minutes after the scare. "We were just getting ready to play a board game and watch a movie...it scared the crap out of us."
Deputies determined that the bullet was fired from the backyard shooting range of a neighbor on nearby Wilson Boulevard. The report states that range had a barrier behind the targets that four feet high and about fifteen feet wide. The neighbor had been teaching his son how to fire a handgun, and was upset when he learned a bullet had hit hit Jackson's home.
Backyard gun ranges aren't uncommon in Golden Gate Estates, which has many large property lots. But a Florida law signed two years ago makes it illegal to shoot a gun on residential property where there is more than one house per acre.
"Even those that are five-acre or ten-acre lots, they need to be safe," said Bob Unger, a local NRA member. "It still has to be protected."
In February 2016, a teenage girl living on 37th Avenue Northeast in Golden Gate Estates was struck in the hand by a stray bullet from a neighbor's backyard shooting range. In that case, the neighbor accused of firing the shot was arrested for discharging a firearm in public.
The neighbor who fired the shot which hit Mark Jackson's house told deputies that he does not want to shoot in his backyard again, and offered to pay for any damages. Jackson declined to press charges.