Springfield Police responded to an incident in which rifle shots were fired in the vicinity of a construction worker building a hiking/biking trail at Fellows Lake.
The incident was reported at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday by Progressive Trail Design foreman David Renko, according to police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey.
“Our officers went out and spoke with him and he said he felt threatened,” Bailey said.
As of Thursday morning police have not yet been able to talk to the alleged shooter. She declined to name the person who fired the shots.
“We know who he is and where he lives,” she said.
In an interview with the News-Leader, Renko said he was approaching the work area on City Utilities property when he heard two shots ring out.
“On reaching the job site and warming up my machine, I was approached by a man with a rifle in his hands,” Renko said. “He began to scream and yell about his objections to me being there, and the trail seemed to be the source of his complaint.”
At that location the trail is within visible distance of a home, and Renko said the man was yelling at him from that property.
Renko said he told the man, “I’m just the builder.”
“I walked back to put my machine between he and me,” Renko recalled. “At that point he started to walk away, another 100 feet away, then he turned and shouldered the rifle and discharged a round within 10 to 15 degrees of my position, in my direction. He then began to re-approach my position with rifle in hand. I picked up my belongings and headed back to my 4-wheeler and called 911.”
Police officers escorted Renko and his crew to another work location on the northwest side of the lake, about a quarter mile away.
“Our company is still discussing the matter and what options we may pursue,” Renko said.
As of late Thursday morning, Bailey said no charges had been filed and the case remained unassigned to any detectives.
“It won’t be assigned to a detective unless more information becomes available,” Bailey said. “We were unable to determine if a crime had occurred.”
According to a preliminary police report, the alleged shooter’s brother told police his relative had been firing at a target on a tree on private property. The brother showed an officer the area where the target shooting took place.
“I saw the tree was approximately 50 yards west and 40 yards north of the excavator,” the officer wrote in his report. “The distance and angle didn’t place (David) Renko in a position where he could be shot.”
The home where the target shooting took place is located in Greene County, but adjoins City of Springfield land owned by City Utilities. That’s why Springfield Police responded to the initial 911 call. Greene County Sheriff’s deputies assisted with the investigation.
CU spokesman Joel Alexander said the utility was aware of the incident.
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“Since the trail is on CU property and some construction is complete beyond the point of the incident, we do not plan to make any changes to the design,” Alexander said in an email.
“Our legal team is working with law enforcement to help protect the safety of the trail crews and anyone else in the area. We’re grateful that this incident did not leave anyone injured and we will not tolerate any actions or threats that suggest violence.
“Despite the unfortunate actions of one person, the trail construction and other improvements at Fellows Lake will continue to move forward for the benefit of our community.”