Traverse City Record-Eagle

Latest News - Mobile

May 18, 2013

Co-worker of fired tribal employees: ‘They should have known better’

PESHAWBESTOWN — A co-worker of the six tribal employees who shot a .22 rifle off their office building deck alleged they endangered a nearby residence, potentially polluted Lake Michigan with lead bullets, and violated human resources policy.

“They were supposed to be working,” said Brian Napont, a Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians tribal member. “Three of them were environmentalists, and they have no business shooting guns. Can you imagine people at the Watershed (Center) blasting away?”

Tribal officials fired the six Natural Resources Department employees in early May for shooting from a tribal building toward paper targets placed on the shoreline. They said they were sighting in a .22 rifle intended for conservation work. The building sits on non-tribal land in Peshawbestown.

Napont said he spoke to the Record-Eagle on Friday as a tribal member and not as a tribal employee. Napont worked with the employees and witnessed the event, he said.

Tribal members packed a Tribal Council meeting and demonstrated this week to protest the employees' punishment. They'd already been suspended for nearly seven weeks. A hearing to appeal the terminations is scheduled for the first two weeks of June, said Craig Elhart, attorney for the fired employees.

Napont said he has compassion for some of the fired employees, particularly a staffer who was relatively new to the department.

But he believes the employees were criminally liable since they were firing a weapon from a public building within 400 feet of a residence.

"They teach firearms safety. They should have known better," he said.

Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said their actions were did not violate any county or state law.

“We wouldn’t consider it a safe practice because the bullet might ricochet off the water, but there’s no criminal liability in doing something like that," he said. "It was more stupidity than anything.”

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl