The 24-year-old Ashburn man charged with recklessness when a round fired from a Hamilton-area target range struck a woman living nearby was found not guilty on Wednesday.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, on Sept. 7 two adult males and two adult females were shooting into a natural berm on a farm property. During the session, a round grazed a woman’s shoulder and may have then ricocheted off the victim’s house, which is estimated to have been 1,800 to 2,000 feet away. The victim was treated at the scene and did not require further medical treatment.
William R. Hymes III was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm in the case.
He was acquitted Jan. 15 following a trial in Loudoun County District Court, where it was ruled that prosecutors could not prove that he was the individual from the range who fired the shot that grazed the woman outside her home.
While Loudoun County has experienced several incidents of errant rounds from target shooting that have struck houses and buildings on other properties during the past two years, this was the first case to result in a criminal charge. In the other cases, investigators said they were unable to prove which individuals among groups shooting weapons had fired the errant shots.
That concern prompted the Board of Supervisors to enact a new local ordinance late last year. That law reads: “the discharge of firearms for recreational or target shooting purposes shall be conducted in such a manner as to ensure that projectiles do not leave the boundaries of the property or parcel upon which the shooting is occurring, unless permission to do so has been granted by the adjacent landowner. A projectile leaving the boundaries of the property or parcel shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section.”
Supervisosrs at the time were divided over whether the change would overcome the challenge of proving which individual fired the errant rounds.
Last week, three individuals were charged under that ordinance after pellets from their skeet shooting activities allegedly struck a barn on a nearby property.