RIDGELY — Two Ridgely families are seeking justice and assurance from public officials that they can feel safe in their own homes after gunfire disrupted a child’s birthday party and killed a family dog in its own backyard.
Matthew Rinehimer of Ridgely appeared before the Caroline County Commissioners Sept. 13 to ask for their help. He and his family were at his sister’s house on Tribbett Circle, behind North Caroline High School, for a birthday party about 4 p.m. Sept. 3 when a “barrage of bullets” came through the trees in the wooded area behind the house into her backyard, Rinehimer said.
At first they thought someone was setting off fireworks, but then they realized bullets were whizzing past their heads about the time a second barrage came through the trees and everyone ran for shelter, he said.
There were 10 people in the fenced in area around the 25-ft. pool, five children — three 5-year-olds, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old — and five adults, including Rinehimer’s sister Lynn Zepp, who is 9-months pregnant, and her husband Justin, along with the family dog, McGraw, a 7-year-old chocolate Lab, Rinehimer said.
The exit to the pool is in the middle of the fence, and as they ran for the exit a bullet struck the dog.
“The bullet traveled 330 yards across open field, 110 through the trees, then 50 yards into backyard and hit the dog,” Rinehimer said. “That could have been anyone of us.”
Rinehimer’s wife Kaylan said in a email that their 3-year-old daughter was standing right next to the dog when it was hit; Lynn Zepp was on the other side.
Rinehimer said a 9 mm bullet entered McGraw’s hind quarters, then traveled through his stomach, spleen and intestines before ending in his liver. McGraw died later that day at the emergency veterinary clinic in Dover.
Rinehimer said he was the one who called 911 and who tracked down the shooter.
Troopers from the Maryland State Police Easton Barracks responded to the 24600 block of Tribbett Circle in Ridgely shortly before 4:30 p.m. for a reported shooting, police said.
According to a preliminary investigation, a dog had been shot by someone believed to be target shooting to the rear of the residence at a nearby property in the 11000 block of Central Avenue, police said.
Police identified the shooter as Jordan Glesnor, 29, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who was at a relative’s house. No people were injured, but the dog later died as a result of the shooting, police said.
State police said it was target practice, 25-, 35- 45-yards, with cans and milk jugs, and the bullets ricocheted, Rinehimer said.
Besides the long distance the bullets traveled to reach the backyard, another bullet traveled more than 600 yards, went over the Zepp’s house and struck a neighbor’s car door, Rinehimer said. “That doesn’t seem like target practice.”
To date, no charges have been filed. Justin Zepp filed a citizen complaint of 10 counts of reckless endangerment, but the complaint was dismissed because the case is still being investigated, according to Caroline County State’s Attorney Joe Riley.
Kaylan Rinehimer called the incident “tragic and preventable.”
She said all they want is for the shooter to be held accountable and they feel “helpless and frustrated that this is how the criminal justice system treats its victims.”
Once troopers complete their investigation, their findings will be turned over to the Caroline County State’s Attorney’s Office, which will decide if charges will be filed, police said.