This is the second part of a Two Part investigative story on the ultrahazardous gun range within the city limits of 29 Palms. I hope the city will take a look at it before their upcoming “study session.” It will be helpful.
Continuing: Ultrahazardous Gun Fire in City Limits. City to have study session on range shooting in town
Sources believe that the owner of the range is going to start night combat shoots.
“The City doesn’t think it’s important, they don’t live there.” – Jim Burdett, homeowner
The Burdetts hosted their annual teen religious retreat last week at their hacienda, near the unlicensed range.
“Someone is going to get killed up there.” Anonymous source, who’s afraid to use his name
PHOTO TO IMMEDIATE LOWER RIGHT SHOWS PARTIAL VIEW OF TATICAL RANGE LOOKING SOUTHEAST. TATICAL STRUCTURE HAS SINCE BEEN RASED MOST LIKELY IN KEEPING WITH TEMPORARY LOW PROFILE.
One source in the neighborhood who owns s 5-acres in the neighborhood, said this: “Someone is going to get killed out there. When am I going to get my neighborhood back.” This neighbor claims that an errant or ‘intended bullet’ landed in his property. The round went past him: “This shit has to stop.” Police couldn’t find the bullet so nothing was done. Police didn’t file a report (Jim believes that some enforcement officers may be shooting out there too). The police didn’t talk to Donnell about this incident. Sources believe that Donnell is going to start night shooting.
PHOTO BELOW SHOWS TELEPHOTO VIEW OF EXCAVATED SHOOTING BERN WHICH IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH CODES OF 150 YARDS SHOOTING FROM THE HAWKINS WEEKEND CABIN.
Another neighbor, who doesn’t want his named used, alleges: Donnell charges for use of the range or request donations. He says shooters are buying ammo from Donnell. The neighbor understands Donnell has a concealed permit. He fears that. He will only speaks about this problem eye-to-eye ‘to some people.’ The neighbor who claims that he was shot at said we don’t need an open range in the city shooting 1000 feet.
Jim Burdett showed me around Donnell’s recently acquired shooting area. We stood at the edge of Jim’s property, the northern edge of Donnell’s property. On the graded site stood an enclosed and shaded shooting and observation tower approximately 16′ high. There was also shelters or framework structure and a container. About 1500′ to the Southeast stood a large target on BLM property.
To the Northwest is Ron and Sherry Hawkins’ weekend cabin. They have owned their property since 1956. Mr. Hawkins says, “Our property is worthless” with the shooting out there. I had hopes of developing my poperty and retiring out there. But now the property is worthless.
His property was measured by Code Enforcement, Gary Blackman; it’s situated 315′ away from the gate to the shooting area. Clearly, the Hawkings cabin is not 150 yards away from the rocky hillside into which they shoot a required by code. Code Enforcement was informed that they don’t shoot into the hillside. That’s almost laughable. It is directly in front of the shooting range and excavated for that purpose.
Jim’s 20-acre parcel was surveyed two years ago. He pointed out where their respective property lines ends to the Southeast. Pointing to the tower, Jim showed where the tower is on BLM property. Jim showed other areas of the shooting range that’s been adverse possessed from BLM by Donnell. The excavated earth and rock was pushed and unloaded onto BLM property, and the graded surface is extended into BLM property. The 16′ tower sets on BLM property according to Burdell’s surveyor.
Somebody changed Burdett’s road on the maps and made it go to the rifle range. Errant Tapia Rd. now goes through their front driveway! The other road to the range was Robin Rd. That was an old mining road. To gain access to the shooting range, Donnell sends all the traffic through the Burdett’s front driveway — where signs of “NO TRESSPASSING” have been posted since they started their residency.
THIS PHOTO SHOWS A PERMANENT TARGET 1000 FEET OFF DONNELL’S PROPERTY ON BLM LANDS. UNNAMED SOURCE STATES ONE TARGET LASER MEASURED OVER 1000 YARDS OFF DONNELL’S PROPERTY . SHOOTING TAKES PLACE ACROSS 10 ACRE PRIVATE PROPERTY ONTO BLM LANDS. CLEARLY THIS IS AN ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE PLACING CHILDREN WITHIN CITY LIMITS IN GRAVE DANGER.
The quasi-Marine rifle range is used all-day-long on Saturdays and Sundays by Marines and Steve’s friends and/or customers. Shooting takes place in the direction of the National Park, over BLM lands, into canyons, to the East, and in a northerly direction. Donnell doesn’t seem to think they shoot to the east or to the north, but Burdett know better. “The City doesn’t think it’s important, they don’t live there.” Adding, “Donnell wants to do his own thing, but right now Donnell is keeping a low profile.” “The City believes they can go by hunting laws, but they don’t come up here to hunt.”
Last week the Burdetts hosted a religious teen retreat. It was on their twenty acres Hacienda.Thirteen teens were there.They hiked, planted a cross, had meetings. It was structured and all had a whole lot of fun. However, the ultrahazardous activites at the rifle range was unnerving and dangerous. “I use to hike in that area but not now because they’ve been shooting. It’s all rock and doesn’t go into the dirt. It ricochets.”
A reliable source provided this information: Irving sold the property to Donnell for the exclusive purpose to use as a ‘shooting range.’ The source believes “The property is not suitable for a range. Nor is it zoned for a shooting range. Shooters out there are firing rounds to the southeast across a ten acre parcel of private property between Donnell’s property and BLM land without the owner’s permission. They’re shooting at permanent targets 1000 yards away. A large percentage of the rounds being fired are exiting off his property.” The source goes on to say he thinks “Donnell is destroying shooting for all of us that live in the area.”
The same source explains: “Shooting (up there) is so loud that the owner of at least one of the businesses to the North has gotten down under a desk! That is causing customers to leave because of the shooting. They don’t know where the gun fire is coming from. A number of people using Donnell’s range are using assault weapons and high capacity magazines. They’re shooting rounds of far more than the legal limit of ten rounds. He goes on to describe the rapid fire noise: Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb until the magazine is empty. It’s sounds of a fire fight with automatic assault weapons with magazine capacities of 20-30+ rounds. They are doing tactical training at the range on occasion.”
THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE 16 ‘ TOWER WHICH SETS ON BLM PROPERTY & RANGE GATE LOWER RIGHT.GRADED AREA IS ON BLM PROPERTY. TOWER IS NOT APPROVED BY CODE ENFORCEMENT
The source continues: “They are bending and breaking the rules which is not acceptable. There is a difference between shooting on BLM property and making this an assault range. There are no known contracts with BLM to put up permanent targets and fixtures. Donnell is one those individuals who push, push, push. Why is it that Donnell does anything he wants, and seems to be able to get away with it, legal or not?”
Chuck Caplinger, member of the Planning Commission, believes that the structures and Tower out there “may be illegal”. He suggested Charles LaClaire, Community Development Developer, be sent the herein information.
Writers Note: The unlicensed rifle range is just a few miles from the Twentynine Pistol and Rifle Club. This Gun Club is a 501 (C) (7) non-profit corporation, incorporated in 1964. Members maintain the expensed to operate and manage the Club. They provide free range time to the BLM, CHP, Copper Mountain College Police Science, Joshua Tree National Park Officers, and the Cadet Corps. Is it necessary to have two rifle ranges, one unlicensed and the other licensed Club just outside of city limits? That is something the city must decide.
The City will have to make some tough call after they complete their study session. Here are a few of those issues:
Is it the City’s intent to accommodate the Marine’s target practicing and long-range shooting needs in city limits? If the unlicensed shooting range goes commercial, as planned, will the City move to rezone the neighborhood? Will the City recognize the tactical range is an Ultrahazardous Attractive Nuisance which places children in grave danger of great bodily harm? Will the City license the rifle range? Will the City grant a zoning variance? Will the City deal with the ultrahazardous activity close to residential homes and weekend cabins. Will the City be noise sensitive to the needs of the neighborhood? Will they work toward abating the noise nuisance. Will they recognize that the rifle range corporation is the newcomer? Will they recognize that the ultrahazardous tactical firing range very recently came to the Burnett’s home of 20 years, they didn’t come onto the unlicensed training range? Will the City restore the quite peace and enjoyment to the neighborhood? Will the City take up the issue of ‘hunting maps’ in rural areas of the City? Will he City honor its own Mission Statement to protects the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and creates the highest quality of life?
By Branson Hunter