Residents Concerned About Gun Range In Backyards
By Ben Hall
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When police train with guns, it's usually at a gun range.
In fact, the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department partnered with the Murfreesboro Police Department to open a $700,000 gun range two years ago.
The gun range is right beside the sheriff's department.
"This facility is very safe," Lisa Marchesoni, Sheriff's Department spokesperson said. "We have taken pains to make it safe."
Catherine Wainscott doesn't live anywhere near the sheriff's department gun range.
She often gardens in her backyard in a Christiana subdivision.
"I love the peace and tranquility of being outside," Wainscott said.
But she says that peace has been shattered by what has been happening on the farm behind her.
"I've witnessed paramilitary training out here," she said as she pointed over the wire fence behind her home.
In May, she took pictures showing a Murfreesboro Police car on the farm owned by a Rutherford County Sheriff's Deputy.
"Three officers got out of the car and pulled out their assault rifles and started target practicing," she remembers.
It was just a few feet from an entire neighborhood.
"It's right there, and guess what, look down there at the swing sets here," she said.
The sheriff's department confirms members of its SWAT Team - known as the FAST Team - used Sgt. Lee Young's farm for official training in January, February and March of this year.
The Murfreesboro Police Department trained there in May.
Officers fired tactical sniper rifles including a Remington model 700, .308 caliber.
The sheriff's department admits it once owned a 50 caliber rifle that could shoot a mile away or more, but says it got rid of the weapon.
"This is not a range. This is a community, and we don't need high powered rifles being tested or trained in a community," Allan Wainscott said, as he sat beside his wife.
He was in the Air Force and is comfortable around guns.
"It was over the top," he said as he discussed the training he saw.
The sheriff's department responded that it tries to be good neighbors.
But a past complaint from the Wainscotts about gun fire on Young's property, didn't stop the department from using the farm for training.
"Sgt. Young lives on that property. He has a right, I believe, to use that property as he sees fit," Lisa Marchesoni said.
She went on to say the new firing range beside the sheriff's department is too small for the weapons the FAST Team uses.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "So you built this facility for $700,000?"
Marchesoni responded, "Yes."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates followed, "Why wasn't it built to accommodate those types of weapons?
Marchesoni responded, "Most facilities are trained at 50 yards, that's what we use most of the time."
So the FAST Team trains on private properties around the county.
"The sound comes from back here, behind the property," Roland Marvin says as he points to an area near his home.
Marvin lives near another private farm the sheriff's department has used for training.
"This is not gun rights," he says. "They are shooting toward our neighbors with high powered assault rifles."
Officers trained at a farm off Cobb road at least four times last year.
"The places that we have trained have backstops," Lisa Marchesoni said. "We will find different rural places to train. We try to be aware of our neighbors."
But last month the Wainscott's received a letter from Sargent Young's attorney. It stated their "harassment" has interfered with his "business practices," and he has every right to fire guns on his property.
"It's been a nightmare," Catherine Wainscott said. She and her husband believe this training crosses a line.
"We don't need high powered weapons being tested or trained in a community," Allan Wainscott said.
The sheriff's department says it will no longer train at either of the locations in our story.
But the department will pick new areas in which to train.
Again they hope to be good neighbors.
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