Butler County gun range owner may sue township for harassment after lawsuit dismissed

A St. Clair Twp. lawsuit against a local gun range has been dismissed, but the owner might now sue the township for alleged harassment.

After a bullet allegedly flew five feet from 88-year-old Berneice Wright’s face last spring while she was watching television in her living room, the township passed an emergency resolution to temporarily shut down the shooting range at Lake Bailee Recreational Park & Gun Range.

The trustees subsequently filed an action in Butler County Common Pleas Court, seeking a permanent injunction to force the owner of the gun range to take safety precautions.

RELATED: Butler County judge rules no proof errant bullet came from gun range

Court documents filed by the township say Lake Bailee owner Jesse Von Stein installed baffles to provide “blue sky protection,” raised the backstop to more than 30 feet and “has modified conditions on the range to make it safer and will continue to make improvements in the future so that no danger to the public will be created.”

The lawsuit moved forward despite a judge’s ruling there wasn’t enough evidence showing Von Stein’s range was the culprit in the Wright incident.

Judge Jennifer Muench-McElfresh said she sympathized with the neighbors near the shooting range on Gephart Road but did not find strong enough evidence to blame the shooting range during a hearing on a temporary restraining order a year ago.

Von Stein said the township dismissed the suit against him because after he installed the baffles more houses were shot. He said that proves his range wasn’t at fault, and he told the township it was impossible for bullets to fly a mile away.

Now he is working on filing a lawsuit against the township in federal court for depriving him of his rights under the Constitution.

“I’m suing under an Article 1983 and harassment and I’m even suing their attorney,” Von Stein told the Journal-News. “I hate to sound like a bad guy cause I’m not, I love everybody. I just wish they would have listened to me, you could have solved the problem, kept people safe.”

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