Donna Hicks and her husband slowly make their way across the yard.
I have only been sitting with Roseanna Edwards and her 20-year-old son, Anthony, in their Eaton Township garage for a few minutes. But the neighbors noticed, the way a hound strikes a scent.
The Hickses have lived in Eaton Township for 40 years, the last 20 on Dye Road. They remember when their ranch was just one of a few down the street from Carpenter-family land.
There’s been an uptick in bees near the edge of the property because of a nearby hive, Donna says.
Mention of it causes Anthony to perk up in his chair.
“A hive about that size takes in 40 gallons [of water] a day,” he says. “You’ve got to figure, if they’re making that much honey, it’s got to come from somewhere.”
Donna’s husband, distracted, lifts the bill of his ball cap just enough to peer around the corner to the back of the Edwardses’ property. He points out two small bucks making their way through a nearby field.
“That’s what we love about living in a township,” says Roseanna. “We talk about bees and deer.”
“It’s all right as long as you don’t hear ‘bang, bang,’ ” Donna’s husband says, mimicking a cocked gun with his left hand.
It’s a sentiment felt strongly among many of the neighbors on this particular stretch of road. In 2014, Roseanna discovered two bullet holes on the east side of her unattached garage. In November, another neighbor’s pool collapsed when a .50-caliber bullet punctured its wall. And in January, Roseanna’s husband, Thomas, came under fire.
He was standing near the kitchen island just after 5 p.m. on a Monday when the first bullet shattered the south-facing window in the living room and passed within 10 feet of where he was standing. It tore through the opposite wall, traveled across the hallway that led to their bedroom, punctured the bathroom door and lodged in the northern wall of his home.
A second bullet passed within 3 feet of Thomas and nearly hit their small Yorkie poodle, Sophie, sitting on the back of an armchair, before it came to a dead stop in the front-door frame.
When a third bullet ricocheted off the drywall above the front door and landed on the kitchen tile, Thomas grabbed his coat from the closet, ran outside, afraid for his life, and called the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Intent on finding the source of the gunfire, he jumped in his truck and drove a mile south to Cooley Road where he discovered two men in their 20s. As best he could tell, they weren’t from Eaton and looked like they were about to skedaddle.
The Middleburg Heights and Strongsville residents had brought a Sig Sauer pistol, a Kel-Tec 12-gauge shotgun and a Marlin .22-caliber rifle out to the 23-year-old’s grandfather’s house for some target practice on a few pieces of lumber stacked 3-feet high and 2-feet wide near the back of the property, according to police reports.
While it’s illegal to shoot a gun within the city limits of Middleburg Heights or Strongsville, it’s just fine in Eaton Township — or any township in Ohio for that matter. According to the Ohio Revised Code, firing a gun on private property within a township is completely legal as long as a bullet doesn’t cross a road or knowingly enters into a home, school or cemetery. In fact, townships can’t even regulate the types of guns someone fires while on private property.
Further investigation by a sheriff’s deputy revealed the two men also had a Sharps .556-caliber rifle designed to hunt large game at long range.
They denied shooting the Sharps rifle. However, police reported it was warm to the touch, smelled like burnt gunpowder and matched the bullets that traveled 2,192 feet through a 100-foot tree line, across a field of soybeans and into the Edwardses’ home.
The two men have since been charged with tampering with evidence, falsification and criminal damaging or endangerment, but they cannot be held criminally accountable for the damages done to the home unless it’s proven they did it intentionally.
“There’s no such thing as a stray bullet,” Roseanna says from behind a plastic table in her garage. “There’s somebody who fired that bullet, and they should know and be responsible to know their target.”