Last summer, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office increased patrols to enforce illegal target shooting on national forest lands, and some citizens want the same action taken in El Paso County.
For the past year, KRDO NewsChannel 13 has received several complaints from people about illegal and unsafe shooting along Upper Gold Camp Road, a mountain road located between southwest Colorado Springs and the El Paso/Teller county line.
The area is popular for target shooting but some residents are concerned about gunfire in areas not designated for shooting, and shooting at night.
In May 2018, a man was injured after being accidentally shot by a target shooter on the Teller County side of the road. The man was with his daughter and managed to drive into El Paso County, where William Von Goeben saw him.
“I saw him stumble out of his vehicle and wondered if he needed help,” Van Goeben said at the time. “I asked his daughter what was wrong, and she told me he’d been shot.”
Van Goeben called for help, and that move may have saved the victim’s life.
“Something needs to be done about the shooting up there,” Van Goeben said. “It’s been going on for a long time and no one does anything about it. I no longer drive Jeep tours through that area because I don’t feel it’s safe.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it patrols Gold Camp Road through the Pike National Forest only when asked to do so by the U.S. Forest Service, which has primary jurisdiction in the area.
“If we’re called in to do further investigating on potential harm or injury to an individual, that will turn into a reckless endangerment charge as well as prohibited use of weapons,” said Sgt. Deborah Mynatt.
Gun owners must be responsible for using firearms legally and safely, Mynatt said, and shooters face criminal charges if someone is hurt or killed by a stray bullet.
After last summer’s shooting, Teller County deputies helped the Forest Service enforce shooting laws on Gold Camp Road and in other areas of the forest.
In July 2009, an accidental fatal shooting led the Forest Service to close the former Rampart Shooting Range, an unsupervised area along another mountain road that was troubled by trash, drinking and heavy use.
Authorities said national forests are popular for target shooting because they’re free and in remote areas not often patrolled by law enforcement.
KRDO Only 2019