LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — Stoneridge Estates in Columbia Township is a scenic, quiet, and nature-filled neighborhood.
“We moved here 10 years ago for the quiet and the nature and the big yard, so our kids could play,” said Mark Heinrich, a resident.
But the past couple of years, the calm and quiet of their neighborhood, is frequently interrupted by the sound of gunshots.
“We understood that shooting is legal but we never thought it would be military-grade, 50-caliber weapons, machine guns and 1,000 feet from our backyard,” said Heinrich.
His neighbor, Jennifer Pinzone, said the constant shooting is unbearable.
“It sounds like you’re in a war zone,” she said. “The other day my son said to my daughter ‘make sure you come inside when you hear the bullets so you don’t get shot,’ kids shouldn’t have to say that. You should be home and that’s where you’re safe.”
In Ohio townships, property owners are allowed to discharge firearms on their private property, provided that the act of discharging the firearm is done safely and legally and the person is the landowner of the property.
It’s a law that residents of Columbia Township told News 5 they knew of when they moved to Columbia Station, but all echoing the sentiment that the shooting has become dangerous.
“We need help we need better regulation about where these guns can be shot at and just provide a safe place where they can be shot. People can still enjoy their recreational activities but not at the sake of someone’s life. We have no regulations about how they can use their recreational guns without getting someone hurt,” said Jen Gebbie, another resident.
Mark and Andrea Heinrich said someone almost did get hurt. In June, their 18-year-old daughter was outside of their home babysitting three children, when a stray bullet came through their backyard and ripped through a patio umbrella.
“A 50-caliber bullet came ricocheting through our yard, through our umbrella, and just missing the three children from the table and my daughter,” said Heinrich.
All of the neighbors who spoke to News 5 believe the increased frequency and intensity of the gunshots, and the stray bullet came from their neighbor just 1,000 feet south of them: Brian Lanckiewicz.
Lanckiewicz owns more than 50 acres of land on Station Road.
“It’s my private property. I do shoot here, but it’s not a shooting range,” he said.
Lanckiewicz noted the reason he lives in a township is because of the freedom that comes with it.
“This is why people move here. I mean most of the people moved in the township moved here for the freedom to be able to do that. The people who don’t like it do not have to move here. They made that choice,” he said.
He has become a viral sensation on YouTube highlighting his land, his dogs, and his guns.
“I do enjoy shooting. I’m not going to hide from it. I’m not doing anything illegal. Everything is done correctly and we do it safely and I enjoy it,” said Lanckiewicz.
He doesn’t believe that the stray bullet that landed in Heinrich’s yard came from him, crediting his backstops and lush trees separating the properties.
“It would almost be impossible to shoot over those. It would almost be 100 feet high. Safety has been my number one priority, that is for sure,” he said.
But no matter where the bullet came from, neighbors are fed up and scared that their house could be next. They said they’ve turned to local township authority, state representatives, and law enforcement, but said because of the Ohio Revised Code, there has yet to be a resolution.
“You’re just not safe to be here anymore and it’s not just our subdivision, it’s everyone within a mile of here. We just want some restrictions of where you can shoot, that’s all we are asking, just take the gun range and move it further south away from such a residential area. There are hundreds and hundreds of people out there that are all at risk,” said Heinrich.