- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A bullet scattered glass through a Wildewood home last Thursday and landed next to a 19-month-old girl, her parents said this week as law officers investigate the origin of the round that came down in a neighborhood not far from where police sharpshooters practice.
No one was injured at Patrick and Margo O’Rear’s home in the California housing area, but they said Monday they’re still waiting for answers, and worry about the safety of their community and their family.
Their young daughter “was two feet away” from where a law officer found the bullet, next to a rug where the child had been sitting, Margo O’Rear said. “I cannot imagine living without her smile,” she said.
Patrick O’Rear, the young girl, three other family members and a nanny were in the home’s living room area at about 4 p.m. Thursday, he said, when the bullet came through a window, spraying glass on their clothes, the furniture and over 40 feet of flooring through the living room, dining area and to the back wall of the kitchen.
Margo O’Rear was driving home from work, and her husband came outside, where they heard more rounds being fired in the distance.
“We heard 18 more before it finally ended. From what the neighbors said, it had been going on all afternoon,” Patrick O’Rear said.
After a call to 911, law officers began arriving at their home. “I felt like I was getting a different story from every person that came in the house,” he said. “It was [about] three hours later before they gave us an explanation of what they’re assuming happened.”
St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron (R) confirmed Tuesday morning that his officers practice their shooting skills with a property owner’s permission at a site off Lawrence Hayden Road, but he was adamant that the question of who may have been in that area last Thursday afternoon is still a part of the ongoing investigation.
“Our snipers have been using that [site] for a number of years,” the sheriff said, and at the same time, “Wildewood grows closer to that property.”
He added, “We haven’t confirmed that the round that came into the house came from one of our snipers,” and that as the bullet found at the house is compared to ones fired at the practice area, investigators are “looking for a way to match it ballistically.”
The recovered bullet, a little less than 2 inches in length, was bent near the tip, and Cameron said the investigation includes determining “where the round came from, and what happened to it along the way.”
“Until they match the bullet to the gun, they can’t say who’s responsible,” Patrick O’Rear said, adding that when Cameron spoke to them, “he kind of apologized, and said he was going to get to the bottom of it, and come here and talk to me and my wife.”
Margo O’Rear said she did not expect that a bullet entering her home would be fired by the people entrusted with the public’s safety.
“If it was them, the people who should be protecting us, ... that’s what I don’t get,” she said. “I think they should stop shooting near our neighborhood. We just want to protect our kids. We felt like we were given this [incident], so we can protect everyone else in the future.”
County Commissioner Dan Morris (R) said law officers use a privately owned target range off Great Mills Road, a facility near Valley Lee and remote farms to practice their shooting, but that a previous site off Indian Bridge Road was deemed to be not “environmentally sound,” and the indoor range now at Patuxent River Naval Air Station is ill suited for rifle practice or simulating real-life scenarios.
“We’ve tried to bring the topic up,” he said, “of having a good place to shoot.”