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Va. sheriff’s department: Gunfire calls from schools likely until January

ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) — A Virginia sheriff’s chief deputy said he expects an uptick in calls from schools over reports of gunfire every day until January since the firearm season for deer hunting begins Saturday.

After a number of school shootings, including the one in Newtown, Conn., the sound of shots near schools makes many nervous.

Joseph Truslow, who looks forward to spending time in the woods hunting, said he is always mindful of safety.

“You’ve got to keep your gun down, pointed at the ground every time. Keep your gun on safety… ,” said Truslow.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said hunters’ gunshots have become more prevalent in areas around schools in the county.

Law enforcement and school leaders said that raises concerns — and anxiety levels.

“It’s there until you absolutely know it’s a hunter. And so students and kids are going to feel anxiety,” said Orange County Public Schools’ Gene Kotulka.

Major Michael LaCasse said as soon as hunting season starts, calls for shots fired  drastically increase. In fact, he said he would not be surprised if they get calls every day during hunting season.

“When you go to those calls, you never know what’s going to be real and what’s not,” said LaCasse.

When school leaders hear the shots, they immediately react, so for the first time the sheriff’s office is asking hunters for help.

The sheriff’s department wants hunters to call anytime they are near a school during school hours. They want those calls the sheriff’s office to be as routine as hunters wearing blaze orange.

“Even with people calling us ahead of time, we’re still going to responding to schools, checking to make sure it is what it is. Harmless hunting that has no bearing on the safety of our kids at school,” LaCasse  said.

Additionally, LaCasse reminds hunters to keep these laws in mind every time they take to the woods.

“You cannot hunt with 100 yards of the road. In Orange County, you cannot possess a loaded  rifle or shotgun on the roadway – [and] you can’t transport a loaded firearm,” LaCasse said.

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