LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Video captured by citizens in one local neighborhood caught gunfire coming from a helicopter, so they called 911 and they turned to the FOX 8 I-Team.
Cell phone video shows a chopper over a private gun range, and you can see tracers as bullets fly. You can also see thick black smoke coming from the range.
Witnesses captured the video last Friday in the Lorain County community of Columbia Station.
So, we investigated. We went one-on-one with the man behind the gunfire from the air.
Late Friday afternoon, witnesses called 911.
“It sounds like there was machine gunfire and a helicopter, so I don’t know what’s going on over there,” one caller reported.
“There was a bunch of shooting and loud explosions,” another reported.
We caught up with Brian Lankiewicz. He owns the range.
“What was actually being fired from the helicopter?” we asked.
“Couple of sub-machine guns that were being fired with tracers. Stuff like that,” he answered.
He confirmed that gunshots came from the helicopter, which set a couple of junk cars on fire. It was all planned for a video to go on social media.
“It was a controlled fire,” Lankiewicz said. “It wasn’t some out of control fire. We were shooting down into the mound which is way safer than shooting from the ground.”
“What permits or permission did you get to fire sub-machine guns from a helicopter?” we asked.
“It’s not illegal to do, but I probably should have let the township know and the sheriff’s department know ahead of time,” he said.
Lanckiewicz says he has 55 acres of property. Go by there and you can see the complex is not completely surrounded by homes, but plenty of people live nearby.
That led us to also ask about the investigations after people called the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Lorain County Sheriff.
Highway Patrol video shows troopers investigating, but the patrol says troopers took no action since they have no jurisdiction on private property.
On that video, you can hear, the gun range owner say, “a Trustee called me and said he shut down the railroad. It’s like, come on, man.”
A captain with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department told us investigators are still gathering information. They are also reaching out to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We, certainly, believe there has to be something that can be done with shooting out of a helicopter,” Captain Robert Vansant said. “This is a long-standing feud between the range and the neighbors.”
In fact, this investigation comes after years of some neighbors complaining about the range. The owner says people can move somewhere else if they want because he believes he’s following the law.
We found law enforcement familiar with that gun range long before now since some officers train there. As we spoke to the owner on Wednesday, we saw officers in the distance firing shots.
But this time, the focus has become not what happened on the gun range, but above it.
We will update this story with any new developments.