BURRILLVILLE – Neighbors of a man who is facing federal charges related to his stockpile of more than 200 weapons are now calling on the Burrillville Town Council to create a process for inspecting shooting ranges on private property.
Cortney and Sandra McKay spoke before the board last week, describing harrowing incidents in February in which stray bullets flew past family members standing in their yard. The events eventually led to the arrest of 37-year-old Ronald Andruchuk in late February.
But according to the pair, action wasn’t taken soon enough.
“It needs to be enforced sooner,” Cortney said at the council meeting on Wednesday, April 13.
Family members and other neighbors have said they complained to police nine times prior to a raid in February, during which Andruchuk was found on his property wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying four firearms. A search of the home, which Andruchuk shared with his wife and three young children, led to seizure of 211 firearms, including a flame thrower, and pounds of ammunition.
“I am fully in favor of the country’s second amendment rights,” said Sandra McKay. “I am also in favor of the safety of its residents.”
Solicitor William Dimitri advised council members not to comment on the incidents due to the ongoing legal case.
While the Andruchuk case was not referenced by name by the advocates, Cortney lives in a house separated by just one lot from the 10-acre Tarkiln Road property where Andruchuk often shot weapons since he moved to the once quiet neighborhood in December. She and her husband Peter purchased the Smith Hill Road home from family in 2016.
The McKays described rapid fire shots that continued, “day in and day out,” before the recent arrest, including one incident in which responding police officers also had to dodge stray bullets whizzing through their property.
Sandra said one officer jumped in the cruiser and the other hit the ground, “spread eagle.”
“This is serious stuff,” she said, also reading a statement on the incidents written by her daughter-in-law.
“My family encountered a horrific experience,” she said. “Anyone of them, or all of them, could be dead.”
“What happened at my home shouldn’t have happened and shouldn’t happen again to anyone’s family,” the statement noted. “The town should act prudently be enacting inspection procedures of private gun ranges. We should be proactive, anticipate and guard against unsafe practices that would undoubtedly end in tragedy.”
Sandra noted that inspections are required on everything else in town, from sewers to building construction.
“This is all in the name of public safety,” she said, questioning the current state law, which dictates that shooting cannot take place within 500 feet of a residential dwelling. “Some calibers of rifle go a mile. That ordinance is now outdated.”
Current law, the pair noted, is directed primarily at hunting and makes no mention of target shooting.
Following the presentation, Cortney asked councilors what would happen next.
“Is someone going to come together… put some kind of guidelines in place?” she asked.
“I don’t see any steps at this point,” Council President Donald Fox responded.
“I can just stand in my yard and let bullets come at me?” Cortney asked.
Fox said Burrillville police will enforce the law if it’s being broken.
Asked if additional inspection procedures could be put in place, Fox responded, “If there was sentiment on the council to make such an adoption I’m sure it can be brought up.”
“I want you to understand in the hypothetical situation there’s nobody on this council who doesn’t commiserate in such a scenario,” Fox said. “I wish we could speak further on it.”