By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Shots fired from an old quarry being used as a makeshift shooting range across the Willamette River made their most invasive presence known in Keizer Saturday, June 2.
Four men were cited for reckless endangering and are expected to be in court later this month.
At 10:06 a.m., Keizer police responded to a home in the 1300 block of Raphael Street North. Officer Jeremie Fletcher recovered a bullet, believed to have been fired from the shooting range, after it penetrated the home exterior wall and collided with a granite backsplash.
“The bullet came to rest on a kitchen counter inside,” said Deputy Chief Jeff Kuhns of the Keizer Police Department (KPD). One of the homeowners was in the kitchen when the bullet came through the wall.
KPD coordinated with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office that dispatched officers to the quarry.
“We went out there and found four people target practicing. All cooperative and remorseful,” said Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton.
Emmett and Wyatt Davis, 18 and 20, respectively, of West Salem; Noah Murayama, 22, of Keizer; and Austin Williams, 27, of Salem were all cited for reckless endangering and released in lieu of arrest.
Garton said even if the bullet had not traveled into a home, the four suspects were negligent.
“The way they were shooting was not safe and we could still have charged them,” Garton said.
The foursome is scheduled to appear in Polk County Circuit Court June 26 at 1:15 p.m.
Kuhns added that Keizer police are continuing to investigate the incident and additional charges may be forthcoming.
The incident follows a similar one that occured in September 2017. On Sept. 10, a hail of bullets drove visitors out of Sunset Park and residents out of their homes. Police officers confronted a group using the shooting range and led officers to a car with an AR-15 inside it but no one confessed to using it. Officers could not prove the AR-15 had been fired or who had done so, but they suspect someone was using it to shoot at clay targets tossed into the air.
Several residents then turned out at a Keizer City Council meeting to implore the city to take action.
“What I’m most concerned about is the fact that someone is going to get killed if something doesn’t get done. When the powers-that-be tell us no one would admit to using the gun—if someone had been killed, would that be how this was handled?” asked Marge Smith, a resident of the area.
Sgt. Andrew Copeland met with the owner of Northwest Rock, Lance Davis, and signs were put up to remind users that residences were located across the river.
Mayor Cathy Clark addressed the issue again at the city council meeting Monday, June 4.
“I called (Polk County) Commissioner (Craig) Pope and let him know what happened and I wanted to look in to what they can do on that side of the river. They need to have some conversations with the property owner.”
Residents of West Keizer have complained about the noise from the shooting range for several years. On some weekends, shots are heard from morning until night.