Stray bullet was found lodged in drywall of La Plata living room

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FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is urging gun owners to follow the four universal firearms safety rules after retrieving a bullet that was found lodged in a wall of a residence earlier this month.

Cpl. Adam Rogers of the Sheriff's Office on Nov. 2 recovered a bullet found embedded in the drywall inside a living room of a La Plata residence, Rogers told The Daily Times.

The Sheriff's Office posted an entry on the investigation to its Facebook page. The post stated the bullet entered the residence through a window on the front door.

The bullet's trajectory suggested it might have been fired a mile away or farther, Rogers said. The residence is a property owned by a bank and it was not occupied.

"With the downward trajectory and the fact it stopped in a layer of drywall, it tells me it was at the end of its trajectory and lost a lot of velocity as it was probably coming from very far away," Rogers said.

Rogers had a hard time believing the person who fired the bullet did it on purpose, stating the person probably just missed the target and didn't have an effective backstop.

The corporal, who is the firearms instructor for the Sheriff's Office and local police academy, stressed that all gun owners follow the four universal firearm safety rules.

  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  • Know your target, BACKSTOP and BEYOND.

"It doesn't matter what your ability level is, if you apply those four concepts, you will be safe," Rogers said. "Even if you not a good shooter, you will be safe shooter."

Bloomfield resident Craig Hunter shares a lot of the sentiments Rogers spoke about. Hunter has been operating a shooting program at the San Juan Wildlife Federation gun range to familiarize people diagnosed with disabilities with firearms.

He spent six years volunteering for a similar program called Outdoor Buddies in Colorado.

"They've got to have places where they've got a good backstop," Hunter said. "A good place where the bullet cannot get out."

Hunter warned people target shooting or hunting game to make sure they have a large enough berm or raised barrier to prevent the bullet from ricocheting.

"I know you want that buck, but if you miss, where is that bullet going?" Rogers said.

Rogers suggests if you are target shooting, you should seek an effective backstop like a hillside and make sure you are far away from a populated area.

"If you don't know what is going to stop your bullet, you should reconsider your shot," Rogers said.

Even the San Juan County Sheriff's Office hasn't been able to escape a stray bullet striking its Aztec building.

It was on July 26 that a bullet struck the side of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office building at 211 S Oliver Drive, according to The Daily Times archives.

That prompted all buildings along Oliver Drive, including the Aztec District Court and the San Juan County administration office, to go on lockdown.

"That's another fine example," Rogers said. "That isn't even a very rural area."

Rogers said if anyone has questions about shooting in the county, they can reach out to nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622 to speak to a deputy.

Hunter suggests shooters use a controlled environment like the gun range at the San Juan Wildlife Federation.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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