Residents of the Barbee lakes area are tired of a neighbor disturbing their peace and they want law enforcement to step in.
On the Barbee Lakes Neighborhood Watch Facebook page Sunday, residents started sounding off about a black powder cannon rattling their windows and the responsible party thumbing his nose at anyone who asks him to stop.
One resident called StaceyPageOnline.com Monday to ask for help in getting the man to stop harassing the lake residents and terrifying the neighborhood dogs.
Although the woman does not wish to be identified fearing retaliation by the cannon owner, she said she has contacted her state representative and elected county government officials only to be told the responsibility to keep the peace lies with Kosciusko County Sheriff Rocky Goshert.
“It’s really bad,” the woman told. “I have dogs that are terrified and it’s to the point I leave my home every weekend because it’s so bad. I live on the lake. I just want to sit outside and enjoy a campfire and I can’t even do that because of these loud booms.”
Other Barbee residents share the same concerns. Marilyn Brown wrote, “We are certainly fed up with it … we live across the street from it and it shakes our windows.” She added, “It’s such a shame. It is so peaceful all week. We don’t mind a few fireworks, as the kids enjoy them plus older people too. But why the big booms and bombs??”
The truth of the matter, however, is that while the cannons may be disturbing to many lake residents, Indiana lacks a disturbing the peace law and the black powder cannons are not illegal.
According to Sgt. Chad Hill of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department who checked with the Indiana State Police and agents with the Fort Wayne Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, there are no laws against citizens owning or using the cannons. “The only thing that’s illegal is for anyone to have more than 50 pounds of black powder,” said Hill. “But under state law black powder cannons are considered relics or antique items and are exempt.”
Nonetheless, Hill said officers will respond to all citizen calls and, after speaking with Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton, Hill noted it is up to the individual officers to determine if the matter falls under disorderly conduct. “And it could be different during the week than it is on weekends,” he added.
Hampton told StaceyPageOnline.com that, “In the past, we addressed this conduct under the disorderly conduct criminal statute.”
Basically, if the person firing off the cannons has complete disregard for his neighbors and continues to ignore officers requests to stop, the officer could cite him/her for disorderly conduct and the case would be pursued through the prosecutor’s office.
The woman who called StaceyPageOnline.com to ask for assistance also said she is concerned with the close proximity of the cannon to her home, and she wonders if the property owner is storing large quantities of black powder on the property.
“I’m told his family owns a fireworks business so he has access to anything he wants,” she said. “I’m concerned about a firework starting a fire, or a lightning strike from a storm … if a fire started there, what would happen?”
Hill said officers would need a warrant to search the property and that would only be after they had probable cause to request one. He suggested residents with further concerns to contact the ATF office in Fort Wayne to inquire about laws pertaining to explosives.