On Monday, at Peaceful Gardens Memorial Park cemetery in Lubbock County, people visiting the cemetery heard gunshots. Someone called the gunshots in to law enforcement, others watched as they said a small group of people fired rounds in dirt and behind trees on the land just bordering the cemetery. Visitors to the cemetery contacted EverythingLubbock.com Thursday because they felt it was disrespectful to have gunshots going off while they tried to pay respects to their loved ones.
Amy Haney went with her family to Peaceful Gardens Monday where her daughter Mackenzie Ney is buried. They lost Mackenzie a year and a half ago when Mackenzie was 18. This week they were visiting as part of National Suicide Prevention week.
Haney said she heard the gunshots and noticed other people in the cemetery concerned about the noise. She said she’s never heard gun shots at Peaceful Gardens before, and she goes there every week.
“We’ve never had problems, I absolutely love this cemetery, it’s always very quiet out here,” she said.
But the cemetery wasn’t quiet at noon on Monday, Haney said.
“We started hearing gunshots coming from not too far away, over onto a hill over here and they shot off maybe about 10 rounds, then moved to the other side of the cemetery started shooting off again and then went back to the same spot,” she said.
Haney said she heard around 30 rounds fired in total. She found shell casings near grave sites in the cemetery, which has her especially worried about where the weapons are being fired. Haney was also concerned because the area near the cemetery is close by to Lubbock Cooper High School, she wonders if students or her own children are at risk if a hunting accident occurred.
“We were pretty worried, my son was scared, because you can’t tell where it’s going off at, we could see the people but we weren’t sure what exactly they were shooting at,” Haney said. “We finally ended up stopping the people who were shooting and asked them why were they out there shooting at a cemetery? [A man] said he is the owner and he and he has the right to hunt out here.”
But Haney wants the hunting to stop.
“There’s plenty of other places to hunt, why at a cemetery?” she wondered.
The Vice President of the cemetery Brett Assiter spoke to EverythingLubbock.com ,confirming that he had spoke with Haney, that she was upset, and that he addressed her concerns. Assiter said that he had been hunting on the cemetery property– but not in the cemetery on Monday.
“I’m not all that worried about people shooting around the cemetery,” Assiter said. ” As long as people aren’t coming onto the park itself and firing rounds inside the park.”
Assiter said that because his cemetery is out in the country, visitors are likely to hear rounds from the neighboring farmers who are also hunting dove on their property.
Assiter added that Haney may not have to worry about any further hunting on the cemetery property.
“It’s probably the last year we’ll get to hunt out there,” he said. He expects that his property, which is near Woodrow Road, will soon be absorbed into the city limits.
“No, we probably won’t be hunting out there any more,” Assiter said over the phone on Monday. “Because it’s too crowded.”
The Lubbock County Game Wardens heard about the hunting on the property as well, they were contacted after concerned citizens called the Lubbock County Sheriff’s about gun shots.
“It’s a pretty routine call for opening weekend of dove season,” explained Aaron Sims, Public Information Officer for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Sims said a game warden responded to Peaceful Gardens Monday.
“He eventually made contact with the family and with the landowners who actually owned the cemetery, it’s privately owned, and made contact with them and did a basic gun license check.”
After talking with those family members, the warden found that they were legally hunting doves. The warden also met with several people on neighboring properties who were hunting doves at the same time.
“No laws were broken that the warden saw or were indicated, the landowner actually called preemtively to the sheriff’s office just to let them know they were hunting in that area, so they didn’t call a nuisance call on gun shots,” Sims said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife encourages everyone participating in dove hunting season to take hunter education, which will cover the laws which influenced the situation at Peaceful Gardens as well as specific safety recommendations for shooting.