Urban Affairs Reporter
Ted Wilson came home recently to find two windows shot out in his 150-year-old farmhouse, a bullet hole in his truck and a bullet from a high-powered rifle outside his bedroom window.
“On any Saturday morning it sounds like a war going on in back of me,” says the horse breeder, who lives just north of Port Perry. “This situation is extremely dangerous, frustrating and very, very frightening.”
The shooting is coming from a makeshift target practice range in the provincially owned Nonquon conservation area, just over a kilometre from his home. While gunshots have been a familiar sound for years, they recently escalated when the area was promoted online as a great place to shoot, neighbours say.
“It’s a scary situation,” says Wilson’s wife Kipp. “You don’t want to be outside.”
Ted, a retired teacher, fears for passing motorists on Simcoe St. as well as hikers and schoolchildren using the education centre that’s within shooting distance of the practice range.
One resident who’s familiar with firearms found the site littered with what he called “surplus military ammo” that would have been fired illegally from an assault rifle such as an AK47.
Farmers say they’ve complained to the police, the Ministry of Natural Resources and local bylaw officials but so far, no one’s taken responsibility.
Wilson says Durham regional police, who came out to investigate after he called 911 about the gunshot damage last week, told him it’s not their jurisdiction because the land is provincially owned. And the MNR say they only have authority over hunters, he adds.
Neither police nor the ministry could be reached for comment on Sunday.
But there was plenty of activity in the area as a pair of canoeists and two hunters converged. The hunters from Pickering said they were going to shoot foxes after a little target practice.
With a .44 magnum in their arsenal, “Steve,” who refused to give his last name, insisted they were responsible outdoorsmen engaged in “safe and legal” activities.
But their presence rattled Nick Leveille, 23, who had just finished a canoe ride with his buddy on the Nonquon River.
“Me and my friend were like, wow, we better start honking the horn because we’re going to get shot,” said Leveille, who lives nearby.
“Bullets travel everywhere and there’s nothing stopping them,” he said on a rise overlooking damaged trees and ground strewn with shot-up pieces of wood and beer cans. “Someone’s gonna get hurt.”
One homeowner, who feared retaliation if she identified herself, fumed about a shot that whizzed over her husband’s head last month.
“It sounds like there’s a militia over there,” she said. “These people have no concern. They’re using high-powered weapons to shoot across private property.”
Cindy Stunden was shocked to find out she had been in the line of fire when the bullet hit Wilson’s truck.
“I’m right across the street. I was working with my 3-year-old stallion in the paddock that day,” she said.
Stunden, who frequently rides her horses in the area — always wearing orange — said she fears for the safety of her young daughter and mother.
“We’re literally in the line of fire.”