Neighbors protest gunshots, explosions
By SANDI SWITZER
Correspondent | May 08,2013
WALLINGFORD — Explosions and rapid gunfire in a rural area on the south end of town shook homes, rattled neighbors and frightened livestock in recent weeks.
A dozen residents living near the upper end of Hartsboro Road told the Select Board on Monday that the incidents left them feeling unsafe on their own properties.
According to neighbors, an explosion and a large number of shots fired April 27 and two more explosions April 29 rocked the area and were felt a half-mile away.
They added these were just the latest in a long string of unwelcome activities.
“It is time for the harassment and abuse of this community to stop,” said a written complaint signed by 11 residents and presented to the board.
“For years we have feared for our safety,” the complaint continued. “Many of us are afraid to walk on our own property for fear that the shooting will start and someone could be killed or injured. At a minimum, it ruins the pleasure of living in this beautiful setting,”
Residents reported the disturbances came from Caleb Lohsen’s and Drew Lohsen’s properties.
“Most, but not all, of the disturbance seems to originate at Caleb Lohsen’s residence, which is owned by Bill Lohsen,” the complaint said.
Several neighbors told municipal officials Caleb Lohsen hosted a party April 27. They said many shots were fired that night and a loud blast around 8 p.m. shook homes.
“This is how they have a party. They shoot hundreds of rounds and let off bombs,” neighbor Ann Tiplady told the board.
Another neighbor, Tom Truex, said he counted 137 shots fired within 15 minutes that night, followed by the blast.
“A terrorist training camp is what it sounds like,” he said.
Two days later, gunfire followed by two loud blasts around 5:30 p.m. rattled the area with concussive waves felt throughout the valley, residents told board members.
Debbie Frederick said she was nearly thrown from a horse she was riding in a covered arena near Route 7 a half-mile away.
Hartsboro Road resident Karen Holden said the noise scared her and made it difficult to catch her frightened horse running around a meadow.
Tiplady, who was working with sheep at the time, said she was “extremely frightened by the concussive blasts.”
Other residents — Barb Truex, Brian Holden, Dean Wilbur and Maryann DePhillips — shared their concerns as well.
Tom Truex said he had kept a detailed log of events from the summer of 2007 through last month’s activities. He said he has complained to the Vermont State Police, the county state’s attorney and local officials.
Residents said they were not opposed to gun ownership or responsible use of firearms.
Several, in fact, noted they owned guns. However, they said they were concerned that adequate backstops were not being used on the Lohsen property to ensure the safety of others. They added that property damage and peaceful enjoyment of their homes were other concerns.
Neighbors said tannerite — a legally purchased compound — was likely used for the blasts.
The board was asked to review and, if necessary, amend municipal noise and firearm ordinances.
“Obviously, we’ve got our homework cut out for us and we’ll see what we can do to help you out,” said Select Board Chairman William Brooks.
Property owner William Lohsen did not return a telephone call seeking response to neighbors’ concerns.