New York Target Shooters Shoot Man Mowing Lawn (Know Your Target and What’s Beyond It)

Kevin Flanney (courtesy ammoland.com)

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- In October 2016, two men were target shooting in rural New York.  They were sighting in rifles for the upcoming deer season. They could see about a thousand feet, but there was no obvious backstop on the flat ground.  They had two .308 Winchester rifles, a Del-Ton AR, and a pistol. It was about 4 p.m. . . .

Almost half a mile away, unseen, Kevin Flannery was mowing a lane on his property.  A picture taken a year later shows tall ground cover on either side of the lane. Flannery could not be seen from the position of the shooters.

Flannery apparently moved in and out of the “beaten zone” of the rifle shooters as they zeroed in their rifles. The bullets traversed tall grass and weeds before reaching the lane Flannery was mowing.

Flannery’s mower, then Flannery were hit. Flannery was critically wounded. It took months for him to recovery after being hit with a high powered rifle round. He lost 40 pounds while recovering from surgery in the hospital. From rochesterfirst.com:

PARMA, N.Y. (WROC-TV) – Police have arrested two suspects in relation to a shooting in Parma that happened on Tuesday.

Police responded around 4:45 p.m. to Moul Road for a report of a man who was shot in the abdomen while working on his property.

Police say as they responded, they could hear shots being fired in the distance. Deputies located the shooters, Ryan G. Pellman, 34, of Greece and Matthew E. Rodgers, 35, of Hilton in an area behind and to the west of North Avenue.

Pellman and Rodgers were allegedly shooting paper targets without the use of a backdrop.

Once the shooting had ceased, deputies located the victim, Kevin R. Flannery, 42, about 800 feet south of where they responded.

Pellman and Rodgers were indicted for assault and reckless endangerment by a grand jury in April of 2017.

In August 2017, Judge Alex Renzi of the State Supreme Court overturned the indictment. The charges were dismissed. The evidence did not meet the legal criteria for either crime. The Flannerys filed a civil suit in November of 2017.

Kevin Flannery went through months of recovery. He came very close to dying. It was 10 months before he was able to return to work. Pellman and Rodgers have had to spend considerable resources on their defense. The legal expenses are likely to continue.

The shooters had no intention of hitting Flannery. They did not know he was there. They thought it was impossible their shots had hit anyone. Flannery was 2,300 feet away from the shooters, a little less than 800 yards. .308 rifles are routinely fired in thousand yard matches.

This accident occurred because the shooters did not understand the ballistics of their rifles. They assumed there was no one in the direction they were shooting. They did not ensure the bullets were hitting an adequate backstop. It was a nearly fatal mistake. I suspect they have been regretting their decision for over a year.

Safety rules came about through long, hard experience. They exist for good reasons. Know your target, and what is behind your target.

2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

comments

  1. avatar former water walker says:

    What a pair of doofus A-holes…just mowing and he nearly dies.

  2. avatar ryan says:

    I actually know both of them from high school and boy scouts. They we idiots then and now. They give gun owners a bad name and I hope an example is made of both of them.

    1. avatar IdahoBoy says:

      How about crucifixion?

      Down the hall, to your left, one cross each…

  3. avatar BLoving says:

    I once wondered if some people think bullets evaporate into the atmosphere if they do not hit the intended target or if fired into the air.
    I decided later that I was giving such careless people too much credit: they don’t think bullets evaporate- they simply don’t think about it at all…
    🤠

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Even if the bullets do hit the intended target, and the bullseye at that, their not going to loose any velocity to speak of, at least on a paper target, and can still hit and kill a person or animal well beyond the target.

  4. avatar No one of consequence says:

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse … Applies to physics as well as the legal system and, in this case, backstops.

    I hope he wins in civil court. This wasn’t an accident, it was negligence.

    1. avatar rc says:

      Yep, this! No excuses for accidentally shooting anybody, period. Hope the victim cleans up and lives large the rest of his life.

  5. avatar FedUp says:

    1. Supreme Court does not mean the same thing in NY as it means elsewhere.

    2. It’s clearly not assault, but under what definition of Reckless Endangerment does it not qualify?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Felony reckless endangerment in NY requires conduct showing a “depraved indifference to human life.” Mere stupidity or negligence — even gross negligence — does not qualify as recklessness in NY and probably elsewhere.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “Mere stupidity or negligence — even gross negligence — does not qualify as recklessness in NY and probably elsewhere.”

        If he had died would they still have been off the hook?

        1. avatar borg says:

          If he had died they would probably have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

      2. avatar Ian says:

        Sounds like the prosecutor tried to reach to far on the charges.

  6. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    I just hope the victim recovers completely and is able to collect the largest settlement possible.

    1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      The victim already had a good section of his intentions removed. He’s alive and “on his feet”. But will never leave a normal life.

  7. avatar John Haley says:

    They hit the lawnmower, and then him. This wasn’t a 1 in a billion fluke. Yet in a “normal” flat shooting no-backstop setup their rounds would have long since impacted the ground, even if they were zeroing at 275, which is unlikely with these – well . . . I won’t be judgmental. Presuming the use of hunting bullets I think that when they did impact the ground the usual expectation is that they should have tended to expand, dig in, rather than ricochet. And with ricochet we get into 1 in a billion, which this is not. So, how did this happen? Scenarios are imaginable (they were on a hill, or shooting prone at elevated targets, but it’s a stretch!) and not going into that in this article is a total miss.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      Lets see here, if they were over 1K then an MOA of shift would be at least 10 inches. If they were sighting in it could be more. Combine this with either rapid fire or multiple shooters at the same target (meaning the trajectory was roughly the same) and you could easily have this scenario.

    2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      This is New York, not the Bonneville Salt Flats. A slight drop in elevation makes the scenario quite plausible.

    3. avatar BLAMMO says:

      The terrain of the area is pretty much dead flat. Right off Lake Ontario.

      https://www.google.com/maps/@43.31743,-77.8020793,15z/data=!5m1!1e4

  8. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

    There’s about 12 feet of drop at 750 yards assuming a 100 yard zero with common 308. I am trying to work out how they could manage the shots they fired. Even without a backstop. The victim would have to have reduced elevation. What’s even more crazy is that they hit him and his mower multiple times.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      As I pointed out below, you only have to overshoot your target at 100 yards by a couple of feet for the bullet to stay above level out to 800.

    2. avatar kevin says:

      The target could have been slightly higher than the muzzle, meaning that the bullet had a slightly upward trajectory. Or the victim could have been on the other side of a rise, so that the bullet drop conformed to the terrain. Or both.

  9. avatar borg says:

    One good thing about them not being convicted is the fact that they will find it easier to maintain gainful employment which makes it easier for their victim to collect from a court judgement.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Yes, quite right. Reminds of the saying, “You can’t get blood from a turnip”.

  10. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    800 yards ain’t much of an obstacle for a .308. According to Hornady’s ballistic calculator, a typical FMJ from a 20″ barrel is going to hit at over 1300fps and 580+lb/ft of energy. If they shot 26-1/2″ high at 100 yards that would put them right on at 800. Launched at a higher angle they can be potentially lethal out to 5 miles.

  11. avatar Robert Andolini says:

    “High powered rifle” Gotta love the MSM, as opposed to the commonly available Low powered rifles…..

    1. avatar HP says:

      Everything other than a .22 is “high powered” to the media.

    2. avatar Defens says:

      Most center-fired rifle calibers are referred to as “high power.” Even though NRA High-Power competition has been dominated by .223 for decades, it’s still called High Power. Can’t really blame the media on this one.

  12. avatar strych9 says:

    Scary. Stupid and scary.

    This is one of the reasons I’m very, very cautious about shooting long range here in Colorado. In recent years there has been a huge increase in illegal riding of quads and dirtbikes where people cross areas they’re not supposed to be in and could ride right into a bullet.

    Actually had to cancel some long range practice this past fall due to exactly this. As we were setting up dirt bikes came out of the woods down range and rode right across an area that’s been used as a target shooting area for decades. Posted and everything. They just ignored the signs. When we talked to them about it they told us to fuck off and shove the signs up our asses before they rode off.

    1. avatar borg says:

      These dirt bikers clearly have no respect for their own lives and are lucky that they did not show up later and catch a bullet. If they manage to catch a bullet while dirt biking they will have a hard time winning a lawsuit since they knowingly and willfully endangered themselves. Additionally given their attitude from what you describe they would probably be held in contempt of court for telling the judge to F off and further telling the judge to shove the signs up his or her butt.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        ” If they manage to catch a bullet while dirt biking they will have a hard time winning a lawsuit since they knowingly and willfully endangered themselves.”

        I’m not so sure on that. The Colorado front-range is pretty much solidly Leftist controlled, politically.

        Denver-Boulder is practically the “Berkley of the Rockies”…

    2. avatar FedUp says:

      Public land or private?

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Public.

    3. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “When we talked to them about it they told us to fuck off and shove the signs up our asses before they rode off.”

      Strych, after a spiel from him like that, I would have been sorely tempted to just give him a big-ass smile and then (but would *NOT* have actually done) extract my carry piece, take aim at the cylinder of his one-lung marvel, and squeeze off one round into it. Then smile at him and tell him I appreciate his understanding and full cooperation in the matter and to enjoy the cardio workout pushing it back home.

      (Fuck it, and him. A new cylinder and head is too cheap for an a-hole like that. One round of JHP right in the aluminum crankcase-transmission. Junk that motor…)

      But then again, I’m not a very nice person. 😉

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        I would never do that to a motorcycle. Him on the other hand… well that was kinda tempting but his kids were there. That’s more graves than I care to dig in one day.

        The fucked up thing is that the whole area is posted “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” like fucking everywhere. Some of that is preservation and some of it is safety. Like two dozen people got Life-Flighted out of that area this summer when they wrecked. One guy managed to kill not just his passenger but someone in a camp sight as well by riding a quad like an asshole.

        Illegal camping is also a problem. Some guy got zapped in his camp sight, right in front of his kids, by a ricochet round, this summer because they were camping in a no camping zone basically right next to a marked rifle range operated by the State.

        Really, I’m fucking tired of the bullshit out in the mountains. My buddy and I used to camp 50 weekends (sometimes 51) a year. Now, never. Every place within a reasonable drive of the front range is completely overrun and they’re not overrun by “nice” people. They’re those “save the whales” fucktards who manage to somehow figure it’s OK to totally trash campsites. Last time we were out actually camping we had the cops called on us over a .30-30 leaned against a tree (fine by me, cops showed up had some coffee, a hot sandwich and shot the shit with us for like an hour about how stupid people from Cali are). That trip we hauled an entire F350 bed, piled up nearly to the top of the cab, worth of trash out of there (which, btw barely put a dent in the shitpile that was a set of nice campsites a few years ago) AND I even had some Boulderite ask me when “trash pickup” was. These morons bagged up their trash (better than the other hippie scumbags at least) and left it by the side of the road thinking a trash truck would come and pick it up.

        I could go on about the driving and the now general lack of common courtesy/decency (People used to stop and help someone on the side of the road, now if you help someone it’s like the morons still driving are TRYING to run you over). But that’s a whole other tale of woe.

        Sorry JWM (and others) but this is why I fucking hate Californians. Goddamn Liberal Locusts if you ask me and stupid as fuck to boot.

        /end rant. Sorry about that.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          It’s almost like legalizing pot attracted the wrong kind of people…

          Might I suggest that a few strategically placed spike strips might alleviate your range problem. Better to lose a tire than take a bullet.

        2. avatar CarlosT says:

          Ugh. You know none of those people were ever Boy Scouts (too traditional an organization). The Boy Scouts would have drilled “pack it in, pack it out” and “leave it better than you found it” from day one.

          [sigh]

    4. avatar Hunter427 says:

      Time to dig some bike stopping ditches and steel cable right after a straight away. Fun fun

  13. avatar Defens says:

    So these guys are (rightfully) castigated for their buffoonery, while Taefledermaus gets yuge Youtube coverage for his asshattery, with a range that backstops on what looks like a cornfield, with a road disappearing behind it.

    1. avatar Beerfarticus says:

      In TFM’s defense, he is typically firing shotguns, not pistol or rifle. Still you are correct, he should have a better backstop in place.

  14. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I might have been in a slightly similar situation.
    When I lived in rural upstate NY . My business partner and I would regularly shoot in an area off of a state road about 1000 feet in from the road . In a slightly wooded area of state land. We used a rather large tree as our backstop. People had been shooting there for decades. There was a decent natural backstop of rising land and used tires set up. 6 feet long by 2 tires deep about 6 foot high.
    We proceeded to do some target shooting.
    After firing about 50 rounds we stopped to change targets. My partner said did you hear that? I said no and then did. It was a horse or 2 whinnying.
    As it turns out over the winter. Someone decided this was a good place to cut a horse trail. Being state land no one to ask permission of. In effect we were or could have been shooting in their general direction.
    We took the high road, stopped and left.
    I never heard of any incidents there after this had happened to us. This was an area used by many folks to target shoot. I used my own property to shoot from then on.

  15. avatar Sprocket says:

    It seems the morons got lucky and got a judge who knows even less about firearms than they do. Not giving a fuck where your bullets end up sure sounds like depraved indifference to me.

  16. avatar HP says:

    How hard is it to use a backstop? Seriously. Find a pile of dirt somewhere. Idiots.

  17. avatar Patrick says:

    It is said when the fellas have to be paying for legal defense when they should be saving money to pay for the victim’s medical bills, lost income, etc. I guess getting the system to make them pay is a requirement, but I’m not sure that they make too much money themselves, so every dollar spent on a lawyer is a dollar not spent on the victim.

  18. avatar Larry says:

    I live somewhat in the area , they were shooting off a bench at an elevated target . If they had been standing shooting at a target close to the ground then yes the bullets should hit dirt not much past the target , in this case they just sailed on ….

  19. avatar coagula says:

    Is it 800 feet or 800 yards. The quote from WROC says 800 feet… not that it matters, stupid is stupid.

    1. avatar Old Fart says:

      I take it from story the 800 feet remark is how far the victim was from where deputies first responded. What worries me is the shooters could only see 1000 feet. We all make mistakes but this one will haunt and cost these two the rest of their lives. I know they are liable but I feel sorry for all 3 families involved, if the shooters had familes. The shooters kids will not have quality of life because dads will be paying for their stupidity for many years to come. Will any type of insurance they have pay for this? If they were on their property would they be covered? Even if some insurance pays I imagine it wouldnt cover all the law suit will award.
      The victim may get paid but his family will still suffer. His kids and wife(if any) will have their lives changed for who knows how long.
      This type of story does not help our strugle to keep our second amendment rights. Especially in New York. I know next time I get my gun out I will check out my backstop out a little more carefully. I actually went to a new range that was set up in the middle of no where and was on on 100 yard range. I was sighting in new scope at far left edge of shooting lanes. There was a slight rise where ground hadnt been leveled completely about 25 yards out and my buddies and I put wooden stand there. We noticed if we were shooting at top target on stand we would actually barely shoot over backstop. RSO shut down that end of range. We were lucky that day and didn’t learn our lesson like these 2 doofuses did.

  20. avatar Mandew says:

    Yes these men acted recklessly but what gets me is the rifle that was involved, was it necessary to mention it was an AR, does that have any bearing on the fact the men used poor judgment?!

  21. avatar Bill Crawford says:

    I expect the target shooters were lying on the ground and the target was slightly elevated as compared to their prone position. Just a guess but that ever so slight upward angle might be an added element to why the round was aloft at that distance.

    1. avatar Old Fart says:

      I googled “Kevin Flannery Shooting” and read the story from the Democrat & Chronicle paper. Guess they would have an accurate story with a name like that. Sounds like MANY shots hit his mower while he was behind it. Huge scar on his abdomen in picture.

  22. avatar John says:

    Could be more fake news?

  23. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    How stupid can people be??
    I hope they lose everything they own, since they won’t be prosecuted.

    1. avatar borg says:

      The irresponsible gun owner of the day deliberately pointed a shotgun at his friend at pointe blank range and pulled the trigger resulting in the death of his friend and a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. Based on that fact the irresponsible gun owner of the day is more deserving of losing everything that he owns than these idiots are.

  24. avatar Mikial says:

    Backstop, people. Backstop. Know where your round is going and make sure you know where it will stop. Simple stuff.

  25. avatar George says:

    If the bullet can be shown to come from one of ’em’s gun, is the other off the hook ? “Course they could’ve been taking turns with the rifles.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email