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Brookfield Youth Pleads 'Not Guilty' to Endangerment with Firearm

19-year-old arrested for shooting in his backyard says he will stop but contends he didn't run afoul of the law.

Bobby Caselnova, the 19-year-old Brookfield resident arrested on August 24 for shooting a rifle in his backyard, pled “not guilty” to the charges in Danbury Superior Court on September 7, maintaining that he was shooting safely and not in violation of the law.

Caselnova was arrested for the first time in August, however he said in a recent interview that he has been shooting since he was four years old and, when at home, at the same area at the rear of his property. Caselnova’s father, Robert Sr., owns Cas Firearms in Brookfield (as well as Cas Photo Studio and Camera Shop) and he said he was raised on the principles of safe gun ownership.

He sets up on his deck, approximately five feet off the ground, and fires at a pile of stumps at the base of a tree 50 yards away [see photos] in front of some thick undergrowth and a slope down to Drover Road. Caselnova claims to have “never had a shot miss,” though, even if one did, he would have to “miss by 10 feet because we’re at a downward angle,” he explained, pointing out the trajectory of his make-shift shooting range.

At the time of his arrest, Caselnova said he was shooting his .22 rifle loaded with CB Short rounds, which are lower powered (less gunpowder) and move at half the speed of a pellet round (no gunpowder).

“I was always under the assumption that if you shoot safe you’re fine,” he said, referencing the statute he was charged on (53-203), which says that it is illegal to shoot on one’s property if it may recklessly cause a risk of damage or injury.

According to Brookfield police Maj. James Purcell, it would be legal to fire a gun on private property, “If they had an established range and it could be done in safety,” at a distance from homes and with a proper backstop to catch the bullets. Even then, Purcell noted, the shooting would still have to comply with the town’s noise ordinance.

“It’s not illegal per se to discharge a gun in Brookfield,” he said. “But it has to be done in a safe manner.”

Caselnova said that police have never come to his home to ask about shooting in the past and, for at least the last dozen years, it has never been an issue.
According to police records, there is only one recorded call to Surrey Drive or the surrounding neighborhood for sounds of gunfire in the last four years — in 2010 — however that includes the most recent incident, which was recorded as a nuisance complaint, not gunshots.

Neighbors on Surrey Drive and Drover Road said the cops have been called to the Greenridge neighborhood many times over the years and on an increasing basis as the caliber became higher and the noise grew louder.

If police were called to the area, Purcell said, they would have to catch a person in the act of shooting in order to charge them, unless there were eye witnesses that came forward.

When police arrived on August 24, they found Caselnova in the act of shooting from his back porch and placed him under arrest, confiscating a black Ruger .22 rifle, 50 rounds of .22 jacketed hollow point ammo, two rifle magazines, each with 25 bullets loaded, and a black rifle carrying case.

“If the prosecutor gets her way, I’ll probably go to jail,” Caselnova said, as the charge carries a maximum of three months in prison and a $250 fine. “I never knew I could get in this much trouble.”

Caselnova is due back in court on September 28.

“I’m sorry to whatever neighbors were offended,” he said, promising not to fire gunpowder rounds anymore. “I’ve learned a lot.”

Eric September 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM
This all seems very vague and open for interpretation what is "If they had an established range and it could be done in safety,” at a distance from homes and with a proper backstop to catch the bullets. Even then, Purcell noted, the shooting would still have to comply with the town’s noise ordinance.Could a .22 rifle really be louder then say a chain saw?
brookfield neighbor September 19, 2012 at 12:23 PM
He might think iot is safe, but there are alot of children/teens in that area. What if my son and his cousin were "exploring" the woods and this idiot shot his rifle and hot one of them? Guns should not be used in a residential setting. If hes family owns a gun range then he would surely know that recreational shooting should only be done in a controlled environment.
Eric September 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM
The information posted by the patch seems to contradict itself as well as the Brownfield Police depts account in the original article it states "Officer arriving in the area found Robert Caselnova, 19, of Surrey Drive, Brookfield, standing outside his residence.While speaking with Caselnova, he indicated that he had been discharging a firearm toward the rear of his property, a wooded area that separates his property and a residence on Drover Road. Caselnova was taken into custody based on this information." In the above article its states "When police arrived on August 24, they found Caselnova in the act of shooting from his back porch and placed him under arrest" I am not denying that shooting a gun in an unsafe manner could lead to an injury I am debating the legality of the arrest and the manner in which it was made and the possible infringement on the rights of the citizen arrested. Poor judgement with regards to the use of a firearm does not make a person an idiot just as having a car accident which results in the injury of an individual doesn't
John Funk September 19, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Mr. Caselnova.. posing for photos and recreating the "scene" is only going to help the prosecutor. Apparently you don't have a attorney yet. You need to stop digging yourself deeper.. sometimes a description of the scene and allowing someone to see it in their mind is better than the actual photos. I imagined a safer appearing shooting arrangement in my mind... than what I can see in the pictures. Perhaps in real life it appears differently? How would anyone know?
Brian September 19, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Key word is "established range". There are many rules and regulations about how to set up a proper range starting with the backstop. Here's an excerpt from a MN regulations.."A properly constructed backstop at a rifle and/or pistol range are usually constructed out of a core material of compactedsoil, rock or crushed cement, covered by rock-free earthen material, up to a recommended height oftwenty (20) feet at a 1:1 slope (soil type dependent), with a 4 foot-wide flat top. Backstop width will bedependent upon the numbers of shooting stations the range operator wants installed at the firing line." http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/shooting_ranges/outdoor_shooting_best_practices.pdf Yes, it's MN and not CT but it was a quick google search but I'm sure there are similar regulations in place on the CT books. Main point is you need the established backstop. You also need to have side berms to prevent a ricochet. As far as noise, yes all ranges must also comply with noise ordinances which would be for higher caleber guns than a 22. Bottom line is that no matter how safe he thought he was, it's not an established range and thus it's illegal for target/practice shooting. BUT there is no way this is something that should send him to jail for even 1 day. It's a fine and goes on his record. As he has already stated, he's learned his lesson and will not shoot gunpowder rounds in the yard again.
Ken September 19, 2012 at 01:40 PM
First time offense of course you plead NOT guilty. Lets be realistice the prosecutor does NOT want to waste time on this case. First approach is to ask for accelerated rehabilitation if this falls within the limits of that option. You are on probation for 2 years and then charges are erased completely from judicial record. Worst case scenario, a small fine will be offered as a plea deal.
Scott Cooney September 19, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I agree with Mr. Funk. This young man really needs an attorney. Stop talking to the press and presenting your case. You need to have representation that has your best interests in mind. You have that right. You may be digging yourself a hole that you don't need to be digging.
H. Ferguson September 19, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Well the perpatrator may have "learned a lot" but he does not appear to have a safe backstop in the pictures. If fact it looks downright dangerous. Good thing the Police came by and stopped him before somebody got hurt.
The Watcher September 20, 2012 at 12:52 AM
really poor judgement on his part. Its a suburbia Brookfield, Ct family neighborhood, not rural farm land in NC. If he needs to shoot that bad go to a controlled environment and keep safety #1 and not this "the odds aren't great" attitude he has toward firing in his back yard.
bkmom September 20, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Shots could ricochet - there is no safe place in one's backyard to shoot - especially with other houses nearby. (Do we all forget the cases in Lancaster County, PA in recent history where someone has fired his legal gun and it has hit (and in once case, killed) someone a mile away? This guy is a moron. Accelerated rehabilitation would be too lax a penalty. He's a history of doing this, there's a history of being a nuisance with this and I doubt very much he'll stop doing it. Let's face it - the boy says himself he's been shooting since 4 years' old. For those of you who think this was minor - would you like to live next door, with children and perhaps grandchildren???
Another concerned citizen September 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Once an idiot, always an idiot. What parent would let their kid shoot guns at four years old!! Typical for this family. This kid has always been in trouble. Shooting guns in his back yard in a residential area is something to expect from him. Pure stupidity!
brookfield citizen September 21, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Wow people, it's over. It's being taken care of. Isn't there someone else you can rip apart?
Bobby Caselnova September 21, 2012 at 03:52 AM
You can't even post under your real name on the patch, you must be a very credible source. I haven't "always been in trouble", I have a clean police record and the most trouble I got caught up in through school was minor messing around. You shouldn't talk about people you don't know too much about. I'm sorry I'm not a perfect human being like you must be!
Bobby Caselnova September 21, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I'll keep my promise not to do it again. Your life must be really miserable if you go around expecting the worst from everybody all of the time. By the way, the CB short rounds I used on my property travel at 710 feet per second. BB guns can shoot at or over 1,000 FPS and they are legal to shoot anywhere, in any direction, so long as they don't hit people or property. My rounds were much less likely to ricochet than many BB guns, which a lot of young kids without my background in shooting run around their yards with. Like I said I've learned my lesson, so find someone else to talk trash about behind the safety of your computer. You won't even post under your real name, there's no reason you should be sitting here reading a tiny bit of information about a case and appointing yourself as the judge and jury of that case.
Bobby Caselnova September 21, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Good eye, I certainly hope the Brookfield PD aren't going to change their story on me. They know very well that the way it went down was that they showed up as I was standing in my driveway with two friends, about 20 minutes after I had stopped shooting. I had already put my rifle away in its case and I had to retrieve it for them when they asked to see it. I guess, looking back, I could have denied it and gotten away with it completely unless some eye witnesses came forward. Could have saved myself a good amount of hassle! My honestly killed me, and the reason I agreed to this interview was to be honest and transparent with everyone concerned about this case. I wanted to show people the truth about what I was doing and be upfront. That seemed to only screw me over and just paint a lousy picture of me to everyone.
John Hawley September 21, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Hey, Bobby...looks like you learned a pretty good lesson early in life. The other is "perception is reality". I think you got that one too. So, congratulations! One last one is that there will be hypercritical people, some irrationally so no matter where life takes you. Learn to let those roll off your back and you'll be stronger for their weakness.
Rob Gianazza September 21, 2012 at 07:56 PM
In reality, it's never too early to teach gun safety. I'm not going to condone nor condemn what Mr. Caselnova did. But name calling is certainly not a solution. Teaching youngsters to treat every gun as if it were loaded and how to respond to finding a gun (discarded or left unattended) goes a long way in preventing tragic accidents. Guns are not toys, the more you know about them, the less dangerous they become.
Rob Gianazza September 21, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Responding to BB guns. Unfortunately that is not true. The Brookfield Board of Education can and has expelled a student for firing a BB gun in his own yard if the incident is deemed to be disruptive to the educational system.
Bobby Caselnova September 21, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Rob- I only said it was legal (and common) for a kid to use a BB gun in his own yard. I wasn't aware of any school regulations. However, I would like to ask: How would firing a BB gun on one's own property "disrupt the educational system"? There must be more to the story of the student who was expelled. In my opinion, that is kind of an overstep to expel a student for what he does on his own property out of school. I don't know the details of the incident so I can't form an opinion about that particular case, but if he was only target shooting in his yard with his BB gun then I think he was treated unfairly. Especially since firing a BB gun is not against any laws, unless it causes damage to people or property. I know guns are a sensitive issue, especially to school administrators who have to worry about keeping guns out of school. I also know that people over react when they hear about kids using guns, whether they are air-powered BB guns or real firearms, and there are people who don't want guns in their community because it makes them feel safer for some odd reason. I was once the victim of an overprotective parent; one time in high school I put a picture of myself on Facebook holding an AR-15 and it was brought to my principal as well as the police. I had to be examined by the school psychologist to see if I was a threat to school safety, which I was deemed not to be, and the police determined no laws were broken, but it was an unnecessary hassle.
Rob Gianazza September 21, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I legally cannot discuss the details as it involved a minor and was part of an expulsion hearing. I agree in principle that it should not have been a school matter as it took place on private property. However the law is very clear giving school administrators broad discretion in the area of what constitutes a disturbance of school process. Perhaps our discussion will aid another student in their decision process. What is a matter of public record is the voting. I was the only board member to vote not to expel the student.
Bobby Caselnova September 22, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I understand you're not at liberty to discuss the details of that specific case. I also applaud you for standing up for the student when (at least it sounds like) he was unfairly punished. I just don't understand how using a BB gun on one's own property could disrupt education, not just with that case but in general. I can't imagine any possible circumstances where a student could use a BB gun on their property and harm the education process unless maybe another student was injured or threatened with the gun and it affected their ability to receive an education. I hope this conversation does serve as a warning to students in the future who may like to shoot BB, paintball, or air soft guns at home to be careful about possible school consequences, especially since I would think most students would have no way of knowing that there could be consequences at school for a legal and seemingly harmless (and common) activity done at home.
LCDEE September 23, 2012 at 11:34 PM
An idiot.......he's 19, what's your excuse???? I'm assuming your an adult, and an ignorant one. I don't care what the issue is, there is no need for name calling and passing judgement on "that family". If you know them, why don't you see if there's anything you can do to help instead of writing inflammatory comments. If you don't know them keep your self rightous attitude to yourself. I'm glad your family is perfect.....for now.
Akim J. September 26, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Ya'll need to get a grip on reality.. you have no idea how lucky we all are to live in a town where THIS is headline news... "19 year-old shoots gun.. at his house.. and nothing happened.." get a grip! it's not even a big deal! It's clear that with the back-stop and the excess of trees in the back wood area that he was fine with shooting there.. also, its clear that the angle of shooting from the deck along with gravity would ensure even in the case of missing the backstop, the bullet would just end up in the ground a few feet from the back stop... and if ya'll want a better sense of relativity for how good we have it here, look up Clearwater Florida news.. 14 yearold getting killed in gang shootings on the daily, ect.. we live in paradise.. you all need to realise that and give my boy Bobby a break!
Chalise Grogan September 28, 2012 at 01:38 PM
It's never too young to be knowledgeable, aware of, respectful towards, and safe with weapons. They exist. If the bad guys have them, the good guys shouldn't pretend they don't exist. P.S. You are the one who sounds full of "pure stupidity" with the name-calling.

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