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Rifle round struck occupied home at Wallingford vineyard

WALLINGFORD — Police are investigating a March 16 incident in which three rifle rounds were fired near Gouveia Vineyards, one striking the residence of Joe Gouveia, owner of the winery on Whirlwind Hill Road.

On Sunday, March 16, at about 8 p.m., police responded to a report of shots fired in the area, according to Lt. Marc Mikulski, a police spokesman. The vineyard, at 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, was still open at the time.

“The people from the vineyard kept everyone inside until we could figure out what was going on,” Mikulski said.

Once police arrived, he said, they located a resident of Cooke Road who had been firing a rifle. The winery is between Cooke Road and East Center Street. Police are trying to determine if the resident fired the shot that hit Gouveia’s home, Mikulski said, adding that he could not release a name or address due to the pending investigation, which should be complete this week.

Mikulski said the incident is not believed to have been a hunting accident.

“We’re still interviewing, and we have a couple people we’ve already spoken to,” he said.

Gouveia said Monday he contacted police after a bullet went through his home. Someone was inside the house when the bullet struck, he said.

“That’s enough to scare anybody,” he said.

The shots were fired by a neighbor and his son-and-law, said Gouveia, but he declined to provide the neighbor’s name. After police arrived, the neighbor apologized, he said. Gouveia said he won’t press any charges and will allow police to handle the incident.

“I’m satisfied with an apology,” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t happen again.”

Gouveia said the incident was “a fluke.”

According to the tax assessor’s office, there are 27 homes on Cooke Road. Most face the vineyard. The opposite side consists of a single residence, privately owned farmland and town-owned open space.

While target practice is allowed on personal property without any distance specifications, there must be a sufficient down-range backstop to prevent any danger, said Charles Bruckerhoff, coordinator for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s hunter safety training program.

“If it looks like you don’t have very much property, it’s a nice idea to look into sportsman clubs where you can shoot safely,” he said.

Hunting is not allowed within 500 feet of an occupied building, he added. It is illegal to discharge a firearm in the direction of an occupied building while hunting.

Contacted Monday, Eileen Barbaro, of 4 Cooke Road, said she only heard about the incident secondhand and didn’t know what happened.

“It sounds like someone was having a bad day with the wrong tool in their hand,” she said. (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz

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