Illegal shooting increases near Gates Pass and across Pima County

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 10:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “Wildcat shooting” or shooting in random, unauthorized areas, is on the rise in Pima county.

Pima County Natural Resources said they’ve had increased reports of shooting out in Tucson Mountain Park. In recent weeks, they’ve had an archer at Pima County’s Tucson Mountain Park Archery Range fired upon in the range’s parking lot. And a hiker on Cougar Trail reported gunfire, including a bullet that whistled behind her before hitting the ground.

“It’s become really a much bigger problem,” said Karen Simms, Division Manager of Natural Resources. “You can expect to see shell casings in any one of those pull outs.”

I witnessed it firsthand on Thursday. I had been parked at pull-out for 10 minutes when a man pulled up and took out his shotgun, firing a few rounds.

He’s just one of the many who have done this over the past few months. The most recent happened last week at Cienega Creek Preserve.

Illegal shooters caused damage to a sign at Cienega Creek Preserve.
Illegal shooters caused damage to a sign at Cienega Creek Preserve.(Pima County Natural Resources)

“There’s people with homes all around this park, we have a campground, the desert museum. There’s a lot of places that really bad things can happen if that shooting continues to occur,” said Simms.

Simms said the illegal shooting is mainly at night, but there are still the few who do so in broad daylight. Making those out and about upset, even gun owners like Rick.

“You see bullet casings on the trail and my biggest concern would be for the people who are discharging weapons to look around and realize there’s hikers here.”

When these signs get shot to the point where they’re no longer readable, they do have to be replaced. Which means each bullet is going to cost you because the signs are funded by tax payer dollars.

“Somewhere in the two to $500 dollar range for the ones that have a cover and then the map underneath. But if you get into a big installation like from Cienega that could be five to 10,000 dollars or up,” said Simms.

There’s an easy way to dodge an expensive bullet, by doing the right thing.

“Just go to a gun range where it’s nice safe and legal. Do not discharge your weapon on these trails, somebody could get hurt,” said Rick.

Simms asks that if you hear or witness anything to call 911. Criminal charges for illegal shooting will depend on the area you’re in and if someone gets injured.

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