A group of target shooters learning gun safety outside of a Boulder County church is accused of ricocheting bullets into a residential area — something sheriff’s officials say is a growing problem as the boundaries between rural and urban areas collide.

Tyson Abram, 44, called authorities at about 5:40 p.m. March 6 to report that bullets were ricocheting off a homemade range at City on the Hill church, located at Arapahoe Road and 75th Street in unincorporated Boulder County, according to a sheriff’s report released Tuesday.

Abram said at least one errant shot hit the side of a commercial building where he works, about a quarter-mile from the church on Valtec Court. Several homes are located about the same distance to the north.

When deputies arrived at the church, they found Pastor David Vidal, 29, of Frederick, along with his children and Brendan Winans, 21, of Broomfield, shooting at a makeshift target behind the church.

They were firing a 9mm handgun, a .40-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber rifle, according to the report. A deputy noted “there was nothing behind the wooden stand or anything to stop the bullets.”

The group was given a verbal warning; no tickets were issued.

Reached Tuesday, Vidal said there was “zero possibility” the stray bullet came from his group.

“We didn’t do anything illegal, immoral or unethical,” the pastor said. “What we were doing was safe and quite legal.”

According to the sheriff’s report, Vidal was teaching his children gun safety, and argued that the natural rise in the nearby terrain would have stopped any bullets. A deputy disagreed, though, and lectured Vidal and the others about the need for a proper backstop.

Vidal said the church would install a berm as a backstop, if they continue shooting on the property.

Regardless of whether the errant shot came from his group, Vidal said, “we want people to feel safe.”

Abram, the concerned neighbor, said he was satisfied with the resolution, and “hasn’t heard a shot” since.

“I just want them to quit,” Abram said. “Everybody has the right to bear arms and the right to shoot. You just have to use good judgment.”

This is the third errant-bullet case in Boulder County in recent months.

On Feb. 22, a group of off-duty law-enforcement officers shooting at the Shanahan Ranch in south Boulder County were contacted by sheriff’s officials after an errant bullet struck a woman’s home just west of Fairview High School.

And in November, homeowners at the Somerset condo complex, 1530 Bradley Drive, found a bullet that was apparently shot through an exterior wood panel and lodged in a couple’s living-room wall, according to Boulder police.

Sheriff Joe Pelle called the county’s incidents more of a “source of calls and trouble” than a threat to residents, since no one has been injured.

But, he said, complaints about shooters are increasing as the population grows and open land shrinks.

“I think the growing problem is the (increasing) interface between the urban community and what was once a rural county,” Pelle said. “We have conflict all the time with people who don’t like goose hunters and who don’t want to hear shots.”

The sheriff said the lack of public shooting ranges has compounded the problem. Even local law enforcement has a tough time finding places to practice shooting skills, he said, which is why the Sheriff’s Office is considering helping fund the construction of a multi-agency shooting range east of Denver International Airport.

“It’s just a conflict that continues to build,” he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or urieh@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

Guns and God have a great historical track record.


3/31/2009 10:02:41 PM

Don’t you love Sheriff Pelle’s logic: random gunfire isn’t a problem in Boulder because no one has been hurt yet.


3/31/2009 10:04:25 PM

oh please. sheriff pelle may be a good man but he sure comes off as ignorant in this article. maybe if he weren’t so personally invested in rationalizing and defending his fellow gun nuts’ negligence/stupidity/arrogance…

remember the motto joe: to serve and PROTECT


3/31/2009 10:57:01 PM

Build a Church complex that also provides gun sales, training, and has a shooting range. The Divine Church of the Compassionate Firearm.

Picture it now….

A televangelist, with weapons of all sorts hanging off him, paces back and forth across a stage, their enlarged image projected on the big screen behind them, whipping the gun toting congregation into a gun loving religious frenzy.

The weak and the infirm hobble forward to be “healed” by the pistol packing Pastor. The pious kneel to receive the holy communion, bandalleros packed with double oo shotgun shells crisscrossing their chests.

Doing Gaawds work….


4/1/2009 2:44:47 AM

Praise the Lord and pass the ammo!

“Reached Tuesday, Vidal said there was “zero possibility” the stray bullet came from his group.”

Must have been Satan……


4/1/2009 7:51:27 AM

“We didn’t do anything illegal, immoral or unethical,” the pastor said.


That what they always say. Just don’t lave your kids alone with them.


4/1/2009 8:02:33 AM

How about the county works with the forest service to get a public range open in Boulder County!The only range around has a 7-10 year waiting list, obviously there’s demand.East of DIA doesn’t help anybody and in order for our deputies to train there they’d have to be out of service/out of the county for at least half of a day.


4/1/2009 8:17:27 AM

I agree with Cookie_Monster..

There is really nowhere decent to shoot in Boulder County like you said the only range has a massive waiting list.

So people want a gun range and a willing to pay a reasonable fee for it.

Maybe pastor can say a prayer for one.


4/1/2009 8:42:19 AM

teaching your kids how to fire a 40 caliper handgun…!Good one !


4/1/2009 9:16:25 AM

When is SOMEONE going to be held responsible for putting other people in danger with their reckless use of guns?Its so easy to ticket a speeding car based on the assumption of risk it creates.How is it our law enforcement officers and district attorney refuse to see guns endangering us?Its just a matter of time before there is bloodshed and all of the people who are letting these incidents go by without fines or punishment will be to blame. Obviously there is a sentiment out there that people do not have to be vigilant about safety, even when they have obviously placed others at risk.These people deserve whopping fines to send a gigantic message out to everyone who might be inclined to shoot in the vicinity of human beings.Obviously, endangering others isn’t enough of a motivation to be safe about gun use, so maybe, just maybe, a financial risk will mean something to these people who are pointing their guns our directions.I’ve always thought it was a bit absurd when I’ve seen road signs indicating a hefty fine for hitting a road worker – that somehow doing such a thing needed a financial loss attached to it to get people to slow down.Well, its time we put in place a hefty fine for endangering people with guns.It is absurd that this argument has to even be made.The bottom line is that our law enforcement officers, district attorney and system as a whole are not protecting us in this regard.We are all vulnerable and they are doing nothing to prevent this from becoming a tragedy.


4/1/2009 11:58:50 AM


“…40 caliper handgun…!”

Actually that would be .40 caliber (as in a Glock 27).

Actually, the pastor was teaching the kids about firearm safety–that is how to safely handle and fire a firearm. Sounds like a very good idea to me. However, they should have had a safe backstop.


4/1/2009 1:57:34 PM


A large fine? For what? They didn’t do anything illegal. The article says they were on unincorporated land, it’s a private owned property, and if you’ve ever seen that property over there, there is about 2 miles of open field behind it. Anyone with a basic understanding of math/physics would know that backstop or not, there is no real threat. However, a backstop may be a smart idea. Those other incidents are unfortunate and should be looked into, however it sounds to me like these guys caught the blame for other peoples misuse of guns.


4/1/2009 2:31:05 PM

So cops and Christians get a free “get out of jail” pass for firing bullets randomly into neighborhoods where innocent people could get killed. Can you imagine what would happen if some CU frat boy pulled the trigger? I’m glad Sheriff Pelle has his priorities straight.


4/1/2009 4:30:57 PM

The range with the waiting list — the Boulder Rifle Club — has plenty of land for what is described as a safe expansion, but the county commissioners have been stonewalling them for years.

Is there a story there, DC?


4/1/2009 6:22:33 PM

Ah, the lovely mix of God, guns and reckless stupidity.


4/1/2009 6:54:25 PM

noboresident… there is no mix of God in there… nor was there any stupidity. The other incidents however, are something that should be taken quite seriously.


4/1/2009 7:05:34 PM

Just use the now famous “We’re sorry, we don’t know who fired the weapon” apology and all will be forgiven.


4/1/2009 8:30:19 PM

“We didn’t do anything illegal, immoral or unethical,” the pastor said. “What we were doing was safe and quite legal.”

According to the sheriff’s report, Vidal was teaching his children gun safety, and argued that the natural rise in the nearby terrain would have stopped any bullets. A deputy disagreed, though, and lectured Vidal and the others about the need for a proper backstop.


in this case, I’d take the word of the deputy over the pastor. The pastor probably thought it was safe because he didn’t see the bullet land.

The other funny comment was:

“Reached Tuesday, Vidal said there was “zero possibility” the stray bullet came from his group.”

As if there were just too many folks out there shooting that day to narrow it down…


4/1/2009 11:54:42 PM

There’s a mix of fact and fiction in the various comments. The Deputy was the most correct. The pastor may have been teaching the kids basic firearms handling and what he knew of safety, but he apparently was unaware that a bullet will carry quite a distance after ricocheting off a flat surface such as the ground. The bullet will not just dig into the ground and stop unless the angle is very steep. They may have been handling the firearms safely up to the point when they began firing and forgot the rule of being sure of your target and what’s behind it.

As for a safe place to shoot, there’s no excuse for there not being a safe, supervised public range – one that the public and the Sheriff’s Office could use. The only thing that prevents it are three people, and your taxes pay their salaries. The demand is there but all three refuse to allow it.


4/2/2009 12:31:58 AM

Flang notices the lack of coverage by the DC about the Boulder Rifle Range. They’ve been fighting with the BoCC for decades to expand their space. Its a very safe place to shoot, and the group has spent tens of thousands to keep it safe.

On the other hand, the county has spent tens of thousands of TAX dollars to advocate for unsafe shooting by keeping the BRC from managing its own land.

The BoCC has forced the closure of a popular and safe shooting area in Left Hand Canyon and extorted the DoW to help them. That area was annually cleaned by boy scouts; four wheelers; and shooting clubs. Its far from homes and roads and it was safe as far as stray bullets were concerned.

Heath Urie writes anti-gun stories, but be clear that Mr. Urie has editors and bosses, so he can’t be blamed for all that appears with his name attached. My guess is that Sheriff Joe had more to say, but as this is the Camera doing the presentation, we can rely on fractional quotations. Joe’s a good guy. Too bad for him that the Camera is anti-Gun.


4/3/2009 8:42:02 PM