Hunters fire shots near school grounds

September 3, 2009 8:30:33 AM PDT
Gunfire heard near a school in west Harris County puts teachers and students on alert. Some bird-shot actually landed on school property.Tuesday marked the beginning of dove hunting season. A brushy area near Hemmenway Elementary off West Little York near Fry Road is likely full of prized birds.

"I swear it was woods and cows before," said parent, Julie Banda.

That is before Hemmenway Elementary opened. On Tuesday, as school teachers and the principal arrived, they heard gunshots. It was a little too close for comfort so they called Precinct 4 deputy constables.

"The deputy responding heard shots being fired as he arrived and heard some of the bb's hitting on the ground near him," said Asst. Chief Mark Herman of the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office.

The principal had to keep the students inside, meaning no recess for second grader Railene Banda.

"We just had to stay inside and watch videos," said Railene.

Railene's mother couldn't believe the news.

"Regardless of what kind of school it is, that they can hunt so close is mind-boggling," Julie said.

A spokesperson for Cy Fair ISD said, "The district is concerned about the safety of students and staff as well as the interruption these activities are causing to the school day. Students remained indoors to ensure their safety."

Deputy constables and game wardens confronted the four hunters who say they cooperated and had legal permits and permission to be hunting on the private grounds. However, they add the hunters should not have been firing so close to school grounds.

"It's not good to have a gun near a school where possible projectiles could go to the school and injure a student," said Asst. Chief Herman.

No one was injured. Deputies say the district did a good job reacting quickly.

There were some more hunters near the school hunting Wednesday night. As for the four hunters involved in the incident Tuesday, they were warned about firing close to the school and were told if it happens again, they could face deadly conduct charges.

Under state law, hunters can fire weapons outside municipal areas. They have to be on land of at least ten acres and be at least 150 feet from surrounding buildings. That applies to shotguns, air rifles and pistols. Hunters also are supposed to fire so the projectiles won't go on to other properties.

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