Public Shooting Range Scenario

We’ve been discussing what appears to be a slight trend toward robberies, including one murder, happening at Pennsylvania Game Commission public ranges. There’s a few things about the latest case involving a murder motivated by robbery that I think are interesting to ponder. Here’s what I would think:

  • The guy was shot from a distance, meaning he probably didn’t see it coming. My feeling is that it’s next to impossible to defend against someone willing to kill you for your gun — or rather someone who has made a conscious decision he will murder to get it.
  • The guy probably met his killer, who would have needed to get close to get a look at the gun. I can’t imagine if you were going to commit murder to get a gun you wouldn’t want to make sure it was worth enough to justify the risk. I know criminals think differently than normal people, but most of them still understand risk and reward. I would also wager the murderer knows something about guns.
  • It’s going to be very difficult, unfortunately, for the police to track down this bozo. There’s unlikely to be any witnesses. Their best bet is if he tries to fence the rifle, which I would imagine he would, because the motivation would presumably be money. The rifle is unusual enough that it’s going to be hard for him to fence discretely.
  • The buddy system seems dubious in value if this guy is shooting from a distance as a sniper. Your buddy is unlikely to notice where the shot comes from, and will probably end up just as dead as you if he doesn’t act quickly, and his actions are unlikely to help you. If this murderer is posing as another shooter, a buddy would likely be a significant deterrent, since the shooter would pretty immediately be under fire from your buddy after shooting you (notice you still probably get shot)
  • I’m unsure about whether he’d have been shooting as a sniper from concealment. It would seem easier to show up at the range with a gun as a shooter, and wait for the guy to go downrange. Reason being you can get a look at the gun, and keep a good eye on your victim. Downside is if someone else shows up, there’s a witness who saw you.
  • I believe if this guy gets away with it, he will do it again. You have to be pretty twisted to do something like this. The money will be good, and this bozo obviously has no regard for someone’s life at all. Hopefully the unusual nature of the weapon will get him caught when he fences it.

All in all this is a very scary situation, because I can’t see an easy way to defend against it. You can carry to the range, but I’m not sure that’s going to help you. Certainly can’t hurt, but this robber/murderer has a pretty scary MO. I would imagine the only way to defend against it would be to have police constantly watching and patrolling around the range. Maybe this is one of those cases where having body armor and a trauma plate would be a significant advantage! Perhaps the Mall Ninjas are smarter than we thought!

11 thoughts on “Public Shooting Range Scenario”

  1. I don’t go plinking alone. 2-3 other people. And the ranges I go to one is indoors the other is near Ben Avery sized and always full. But then again I don’t have a truck and the areas I go to are so rough you cannot get there by car, you may smash something in the undercarraige. Your basically going over nothing but boulders.

    I had a shotgun stolen once. Never saw it again. I believe they sold it but I bet it was a prviate transfer. It will be decades before its pawned if ever.

    If they sell it it will not be to a pawnshop. This will have to be reported constantly, every hour, every day, for weeks and weeks. Maybe months. And exactly what it is. Tell the gun stores and pawn shops, put up notices at gun stores and ranges. Hell even put up ads in backpage and gunbroker and other gun classified sites regurally. But I doubt the MSM will put the energy into keeping it alive for so long. It would have to be done by individuals.

    To be brutally honest no one will do anything serious until there is another death. And even then…

  2. Not to mention that he now has acquired an excellent weapon with which to engage in similar attacks…and which would further limit the ability to pinpoint his location. It’s stories like this that make me EXTREMELY happy I have access to several very private places to shoot including one 500 yard range. Even the “private” club ranges I belong to worry me since although they are ostensibly restricted they are identified by signage and there are no real security impediments to someone sneaking in from adjoining properties…I tend to only use them when there are events or I go with a significant number of persons.

    I think we’ll be e-mailing and leafleting all of our customers on this. Although the PA range in question wasn’t that close to us, it still is a good reminder that there are goblins like this out there.

  3. …and this is why we don’t carry auto insurance on only the days we plan to have accidents… Hunters, ATV/Offroaders, Shooters, are all vulnerable to the banditos…

  4. ..and you shouldn’t so any of the afore mentioned activities alone…and yes, I carry around home too. You’re not always sitting next to you gun when a stranger stops buy, better to have it on you.

    It may not stop a covert criminal sniping at you, but you do what you can.

  5. Safety in numbers is the key. Years ago we had an almost incident with three “young fellers” that actually were stupid enough to try to get jiggy with a fellow shooter during a drills training session and steal one of his guns. They were challenged politely by yours truly and about 20 other shooters were staring with smirks in their faces (sort of “please …make my day?”. Quick retreat and they were never saw again.
    We’ve been wary of anybody showing up to the matches & training till their intentions can be confirmed.

  6. “Their best bet is if he tries to fence the rifle, which I would imagine he would, because the motivation would presumably be money.”

    I had it in my head that Platt and Matix robbed several target shooters in remote areas for their weapons, prior to the FBI shootout. The Wikipedia article does state that they shot one guy who was target shooting at a rock pit, and stole his car, but doesn’t say anything about his guns.

    Still, it might be worth considering that as another possible motivation; criminals hijacking target shooters in order to get weapons they can’t purchase legally.

  7. Or it gets used in a murder on a federal politician and all the tea party gets blamed for it… and presBo starts martial law… and the next civil war begins….

    The best we can hope for is someone can’t keep their mouth shut and they start spouting clues within earshot of a snitch.

  8. My speculation is it was some unhinged person afraid of the coming civil war/end of civilization, who felt that he needed a uber rifle against the jackbooted zombie hoards. If so, the gun will only show up, in the guy’s apartment/basement/van by the river if he gets caught. I speculate this guy spends a lot of time online, but he’ll be too paranoid to brag about it.
    He’ll be looking to buy ammo and accessories immediately (either in local stores or online) – that’s the best lead IMO if the cops can get an immediate canvas going.

    The next best way for the police to find him would be to look for someone (or multiple sock puppet accounts online) obsessed with getting the rifle immediately, which is best, whining about cost/availability, who suddenly is no longer looking for a rifle. Whatever his next focus is, is what he’s willing to kill for.

  9. Is there any chance this wasn’t actually a robbery but was either murder or an accident with theft as a crime of opportunity afterward? As many stories as people online seem to have about loaded firearms getting pointed at them on cold ranges, it stands to reason that every so often someone is going to get hit, even at long range.

    Or it might be that there was straight old-fashioned murder over money, women, or the like.

    If it’s someone who knows his guns and isn’t a moron, we’ll never see that gun again in one piece.

  10. “Is there any chance this wasn’t actually a robbery but was either murder or an accident with theft as a crime of opportunity afterward? As many stories as people online seem to have about loaded firearms getting pointed at them on cold ranges, it stands to reason that every so often someone is going to get hit, even at long range.”

    He was shot multiple times, so it probably wasn’t an accident. The theft could still have been a crime of opportunity, but since someone else was robbed at gunpoint at the same range previously, I doubt it.

    This may have been an attempt at a similar robbery that went wrong, or the killer may have decided that it’s easier to just shoot first.

  11. Unfortunately, we had a similar murder 2 years ago at the Beech Fork public range that I use here in WV. A local reverend was shooting alone when he was shot by two AWOL members of the Army from Ft. Drum so they could steal his guns. Thankfully, both were caught pretty quickly & convicted. Since we don’t have the death penalty, they’ll spend the rest of their lives in prison. One guy got 160 years (40 for the murder & 120 for robbery) and the other got life for the killing, plus 90 years for robbery.

    Here are some of the details from the court testimony…

    Hopefully this guy in PA will be caught and dealt with as well.

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