Target practice: No charges in shooting of Glenmore woman
Albemarle police say they've identified the source of the bullet that randomly struck a Glenmore woman in her backyard, and point to unnamed target shooters more than half a mile away. It's a painful reminder of how far bullets can travel.
"You should always have a backstop," says Albemarle Sheriff Chip Harding, who recently taught a hunter safety class. "It doesn't help the cause of hunters to have someone shooting irresponsibly."
The shooting occurred around 8pm Sunday, August 29, when 61-year-old Justine Joscelyne was watering nandinas at her Darby Road residence in the gated Glenmore subdivision. Pierced in her right breast and suffering both an entrance and exit wound, she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released later that evening.
Albemarle police spokesman Lieutenant Shawn Schwertfeger says the alleged shooter was part of a group of four sharing a shotgun and a rifle at a makeshift firing range in the yard of a residence in the 3700 block of Richmond Road. And although no slug was recovered, Schwertfeger says he believes the stray projectile came from the rifle.
Virginia has laws that prohibit shooting across roads or at houses, with increased penalties when a shooting occurs with malice. State code also makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to recklessly discharge firearms to "endanger the life, limb or property of any person."
Police portray the members of the shooting party as cooperative and say that after consulting with the Commonwealth Attorney's office, they decided against filing any charges.
Albemarle police have declined to identify the gunmen or the owner of the Richmond Road property, and rejected a Freedom of Information Act request from the Hook, claiming that the identity of the shooter is exempt under FOIA.
Trevor Joscelyne, husband of the victim and president of the Glenmore Community Association, estimates that the Richmond Road residence lies about 1,000 yards from the Joscelynes' backyard, and says he's "certain" the house is a rental owned by Glenmore Associates, the company that developed Glenmore and which has had to pay back missing homeowner association funds embezzled by Glenmore Associates partner Mike Comer. "I think it's coincidence," says Joscelyne of that connection.
"They didn't break any laws," he says of the shooters, "and it was an accident."
When the Hook spoke to his wife on August 30, the day after the incident, she said she felt "surprisingly fine."
Another outcome heartening to Trevor Joscelyne, he says, is that police are urging the county to consider tightening shooting rules in the growth areas, as will the Glenmore Community Association. Currently, Albemarle makes it illegal to discharge a firearm in an area zoned residential, but the Richmond Road residence falls under neighborhood model zoning, which is exempt from the county ordinance. "We're going to be pressing the county to extend the ordinance to cover neighborhood model zoning," says Joscelyne.
After the notorious 2006 intentional shooting of a pet cat named "Carmen" by an angry neighbor in the Bentivar subdivision, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors considered a ban on discharging firearms within 200 yards of any house. But after hearing concerns that such action could harm Albemarle’s rural character and vex law-abiding hunters, the Board took no action.
Updated 11:30am September 7 to note Albemarle police's denial of the Hook's Freedom of Information Act request for the identity of the gunmen.
Updated 1pm September 3 with additional code on reckless handling of firearms and the possible connection with Glenmore Associates.