The city of Rowlett is suing a Garland gun range to force it to make more safety improvements to protect nearby homes.
On Friday the judge hearing the case went to the range himself. A cease fire allowed him to view evidence first hand.
Judge Ken Molberg inspected the safety changes that have already been made, walking around the berm which was raised. He also examined the overhead visors which were lowered and viewed where the targets are facing.
It is unusual for a judge to make a field trip, but in this case Judge Molberg wanted to see for himself if what has already been done goes far enough.
The range was thrust into the spotlight back in 2010 when Rowlett homeowner Mike Domin was hit by a stray bullet in his backyard. Then in January 2012 two other homes were hit.
Rowlett believes those bullets all came from the range. Owner James Day disagrees.
In court Friday, the judge said Day has been cooperative and believes his concern for public safety is genuine.
"I have no desire to shut this man down and I am not going to do that. On the other hand, I can say the lives and the property of the citizens in that area, in Rowlett, must be paramount in this court's consideration," he said.
Judge Molberg ordered the range to extend the visors, reposition the targets away from the neighborhood and he will appoint an independent expert to make safety recommendations before the January trial date.
Both sides left the courtroom with smiles.
"Getting him to go to the gun range and see for himself was a huge monumental victory on our part. That way he knows exactly what is going on and not just us saying so," said David Berman, Rowlett's city attorney.
"We are pleased with the ruling today and partially pleased that the court has found a way to fashion an order today that seems to recognize everyone's interests," said Randal Mathis, the range owner's attorney.
Homeowner Jannie Bowman has attended all the court proceedings after a bullet tore through her son's bedroom.
"There is a little bit of relief but not complete. I am still going to pay attention to when the kids are out in the backyard and still going to be leery about them playing in my son's bedroom," she said.
Day said he is working with the city of Garland to eventually move the range to an adjacent property where homes will no longer be down range.
KDFW FOX 4
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