LAMOINE, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- We would all like to think we are safe inside our homes, but for one Lamoine family this is no longer the case. Monday a stray .38 caliber bullet cut through the St. Pierre family home. The source of the bullet was a neighbor practicing his target shooting from hundreds of yards away.

Homeowner Joanne St. Pierre said, "We often hear this target practicing. If we hear it, we often stay inside until it's gone. It just so happen to go through our house this time."

The stray bullet entered through the back of their home, pierced the wall crossing the entryway, and exited out the front of the home.

St. Pierre said, "It's scary to think we could've lost a life. That is the height of my husband. Had he been walking out the door. Had he not gone back to change his shirt at that moment."

The family is speaking out hoping to spread awareness of the importance of gun safety.

"I come from a family of hunters, I have hunted. I just want people to be aware that they need to know where their bullets are going, they need to know and practice good gun safety," said St. Pierre.

The Hancock County Sheriff's office investigated the situation. The male responsible for the stray bullet admitted to police he was target shooting and did not intentionally hit the house.

According to the police report, no charges will be filed because "it was determined this was an unforeseeable incident."

Police did tell St. Pierre the man agreed to pay restitution. The family, however, is able to file a civil action lawsuit.


This story sparked discussion in our newsroom and from some of our viewers at home as to when charges are brought against someone in a similar situation.

According to Penobscot County District Attorney Chris Almy, it is not illegal to target shoot at your home as long as you are a safe distance away from other homes or businesses. In the case where one of the shooter's bullets hits a home or even another person the prosecutors must prove the individual acted recklessly.

Reckless conduct is defined by Maine law "as the disregard of the risk, when viewed in light of the nature and purpose of the person's conduct and the circumstances known to the person must involve a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable and prudent person would observe in the same situation."

Chris Almy with the Penobscot County District Attorney's office said, "It's difficult to sometimes decide if it should be a criminal case or not, but it all really comes down to a matter of degree. How big was the mistake that the shooter made. Was it a really stupid mistake or was it just an accident...reckless misconduct is designed for when a defendant is being really careless, not really thinking at all about the consequences of his conduct. It's not designed for accidents."

Although more often than not criminal charges are not brought against the shooter, the victims of the stray bullet are entitled to file a civil suit if they feel the individual acted negligent.

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