Target shooting common in area where woman was killed by stray bullet

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FERNDALE — A stray bullet from a group of men target shooting more than a half-mile away may have been what struck and killed a 23-year-old woman celebrating Father’s Day at a family backyard barbecue, police said Monday.

policetapeThe Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office on Monday arrested two men among the group of five who were  target shooting for investigation of illegal possession of firearms. They posted bail later in day.

The woman’s father called 911 desperately seeking help for his mortally wounded daughter. Neighbors say they heard several gunshots even before the woman was struck. When cops rushed to the 6100 block of Gadwa Road, they heard gunfire coming from a distance.

“I can’t imagine; it shocks me,” said neighbor Mike Hoeruegel.

From the backyard there is an expansive field that borders the Nooksack River and it’s on the other side of the river where the gunfire was taking place. On Monday detectives armed with 3D measuring sticks were at the site of the target shooting to figure out how it all could have happened.

“Why target shoot in the backyard; there are places you can go to do that,” said Hoeruegel.

The group was target shooting on private property, where there is no restriction on shooting.

Ferndale residents say it’s a common activity.

“I’ve heard many people shooting at the river, it is pretty normal here,” said Ferndale resident Amrit Sidhu.

The two men arrested are felons so they were immediately arrested for possessing a firearm. As of Monday night, no one has been charged in the woman’s death.

“I’ve lived here all my life, nothing like this has ever happened,” said Hoeruegel.

Neighbors say this first time should be the last; they are now calling for stricter guidelines on where people can and target shoot.

“One death is more than enough to realize it is probably not safe to do that,” said Sidhu.

Deputies confiscated two handguns and two rifles.

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