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.”