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May 31, 2012

COURT ORDER ISSUED IN BUFFALO RANGE CASE

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that Judge Eugene Daugherity entered an Agreed Preliminary Injunction Order in LaSalle County Circuit Court in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) suit against Evelyn Muffler. The order calls for the continued closure of specific areas of the range—the 50- and 75-yard targets at the 100-yard rifle range and the plinking pit—while an independent expert is appointed to review those areas to ensure sufficient safety barriers are in place to prevent bullets from leaving the shooting range.

The following timeline of events details how the parties reached today’s agreed order.

Timeline of Events:

  • In 2006, Conservation Police investigated complaints that bullets entered the Buffalo Rock State Park in violation of a 1992 court order which established restrictions and regulations for the safe operation of Buffalo Range.
  • In December 2007, an agreed order was entered in court as a result of these incidents and specified that the defendant must maintain barriers sufficient “to ensure that projectiles impact or strike the berms and do not leave the premises.”
  • Since 2007, there have been numerous reported incidents of bullets leaving the premises and entering the State Park and I &M Canal State Trail area. Conservation Police and park visitors have informed IDNR of incidents dating back to 2008.
  • In May 2010, IDNR employees working on the canal trail reported hearing bullets pass over their heads. State personnel and gun range representatives have conducted multiple tours of the site.
  • In 2011, State officials conducted an on-site inspection of the shooting range.
  • On November 2, 2011, the Attorney General’s office sent a letter to Buffalo Range attorneys detailing particular safety concerns with the facility’s 100-yard rifle range and the plinking pit, specifying needed safety improvements to the range and providing recommendations for improvements to berms and target supports.
  • In a December 7, 2011, letter, the attorney for the shooting range responded that the facility would remain closed until March 30, 2012, and would respond in the “immediate future” to IDNR’s recommended safety improvements.
  • In approximately March 2012, having failed to respond as promised to the recommended safety improvements, the shooting range website set an opening date of March 16, 2012, contradicting the December 7, 2011 letter from the range attorney.
  • In March 2012, the State asked Judge Daugherity for a temporary restraining order in light of the shooting range’s failure to respond to the November 2011 requests for safety improvements and the range’s announcement of an early opening.
  • On March 15, 2012, Judge Daugherity held a hearing and granted the temporary restraining order, while setting the matter for trial on the eventual Agreed Preliminary Injunction.
  • On April 11, 2012, hearings began with the State presenting testimony from an expert witness regarding range safety, residents who had experienced bullet strikes, State Park employees and Conservation Police Officers who encountered dangerous situations over the years.
  • On May 31, 2012, the parties entered into an Agreed Preliminary Injunction Order that addresses the State’s safety concerns while allowing the shooting range to reopen under certain operational conditions.

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