Crime

North County man target-shooting in backyard hits neighbor's house

Tom Normandy shows the bullet hole in his kitchen window.
Tom Normandy shows the bullet hole in his kitchen window.

A rural Paso Robles man is awaiting trial after firing bullets into his neighbor’s home while target shooting.

Dean Buckley, 59, of Whitley Gardens told police that he did not mean to hit his neighbor’s home while shooting at a water tank in his backyard. Buckley was arraigned Dec. 5 on a felony charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence, according to San Luis Obispo Superior Court records.

“I could easily have been getting a glass of water and taken a bullet to the head,” said Tom Normandy, Buckley’s neighbor.

Normandy and his wife were sitting in their living room about 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26, when they heard a gunshot and something hit their home.

Because it’s not unusual to hear gunshots in rural Paso Robles, Normandy had a hard time processing what had happened, he said.

But a second gunshot sent a bullet flying through their kitchen window with a shatter, ricocheting off a wall and cabinet before landing on the kitchen floor. Police later dug the initial bullet out of the couple’s exterior wall.

The two men’s homes are separated by about 100 yards, which includes a thickly wooded area and dry creek.

While his wife called 911, Normandy carefully entered his backyard in the direction of fire, yelling through the woods at his neighbor to stop shooting. He yelled that bullets were hitting his home.

Normandy said Buckley screamed back, “I can do anything I want on my property,” and fired three more rounds.

Buckley did not realize that he had hit his neighbor’s home when he decided to continue firing, said his attorney, Gregory Jacobson.

“It was out of the blue,” Jacobson said, because Buckley has been target shooting in his backyard for more than 10 years with no problems.

“Somehow, someway, two bullets made it through all those obstacles — the backdrop, the creek, the wooded area — and into his neighbor’s home. (Buckley) cannot see his neighbor’s house from where he is at. He feels very, very badly.”

The water tank that Buckley regularly shot at was in the same direction as Normandy’s home.

Buckley admitted to police that he was shooting a .45-caliber revolver. A gun of that strength could send a bullet through the water tank target, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said.

Buckley was in possession of a concealed weapons permit at the time of the incident.

“I have no problem with people owning guns, but I think you should be responsible with it,” Normandy said.

Buckley’s next court date is set for Jan. 28.

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