Jessica Robertson wasn’t home when the bullet crashed through her apartment’s window.
Her husband called her while she was at work Jan. 10 to ask what had happened to his coffee cup: the Punisher-themed one, with the target on the side.
It was broken on the counter. The first suspect was the cat, she said.
But on closer inspection, they found the culprit had come from the outside.
A 9 mm bullet appeared to have broken through the couple’s fifth-floor window, ricocheted off the wall, and flew across the apartment, Robertson said. The bullet hit the cup, and ended up in a wall, she said.
She called the police. First a patrol officer came, then later a crime-scene investigator, who took a picture of the wall and the window.
They’d look into it, the officer said.
Investigations into cases like Robertson’s are tricky and often unsatisfying, officials said this week. While theories may emerge about a bullet’s origins, in the end, there’s little chance of a satisfying conclusion.
In the four months since the bullet arrived, she’d gotten no answer from police, Robertson said. To this day, she’s hesitant to say she’s sure about where the bullet came from, although looking out her living room window, it’s hard not to come up with a theory.
“I don’t think it was intentional at all,” she said. “But we started to wonder the how and why, and the first thing that really came to mind was about the shooting range.”
The Galveston Rifle and Pistol Club’s shooting range is within sight of her apartment’s windows. It’s about 700 yards away from the building.
Robertson reached out to the club the day after finding the bullet, she said. After some back and forth, the club’s president said he had determined the bullet hadn’t come from the range.
“I don’t have any reason not to believe him,” Robertson said.
Robertson said she received that answer in April, the day after police responded to a different reported shooting, from a man at the Stella Mare RV Park, who reported being struck in the arm while he was standing in his driveway. The bullet came down from the sky, he said.
A Galveston Police Department spokesman this week said police had not made any determination about where Robertson’s bullet came from.
It’s unlikely they will ever know for sure, police Capt. Joshua Schirard said.
“It’s 100 percent speculation about where that bullet came from,” Schirard said.
The police department does not keep a record of gun shots with unknown origins, Schirard said. There was no history of investigations into reckless discharges of firearms from the range, he said.
While police often get reports about gunshots, it’s rare they receive a report like Robertson’s, where a bullet actually hit or entered a residence, he said.
There are possibilities other than the gun range for where the bullet came from — a drive-by shooting, for instance, Schirard said.
“There’s only so much we can do with it,” Schirard said.
The Galveston Rifle and Pistol Club is not a new addition to the island, and was likely in its location long before the apartment complex or RV park were built, the club president said.
The range has been in the same place for 70 years, club president Mark Porretto said.
Club members are given a code to get inside a gate and use the facility, and members are expected to act on an honor system, Porretto said. They’re told to sign into a visitor log when using the range, he said.
When there’s a complaint about something that might have happened on the range, Porretto interviews the people who were at the range, according to the log book, he said.
The club does not have a person monitoring activity at the range full-time, Porretto said.
If a person accidentally fired a bullet off of range property, they’d be expected to report it to him, Porretto said. No one reported such an incident in January, he said.
“From our view, it’s just an accusation,” Porretto said. “There’s just too many variables.”
Current and former city officials acknowledged Wednesday there was at least one effort in recent years to address a complaint about the range. In 2016, city officials met with owners of property abutting Sweetwater Lake, a bayou just north of the range.
The owners were concerned about bullets they argued were being shot over berms at the range and were landing in the water, Galveston City Attorney Donald Glywasky said.
But after the meetings and research into the issue, the city told the landowners that if they wanted to see changes, they’d have to take it up with the club directly, Glywasky said.
“City’s are pre-empted from regulating in any way gun ranges,” Glywasky said.
Robertson didn’t necessarily want to see anything done to the club, she said. She grew up on the West End and knows people, even family members, that were members. The range is “not a big deal,” she said.
Whether or not the bullet came from the range, or from a drive-by shooting, or some other source, the incident had left her shaken, she said.
After 10 years in the same apartment, she and her husband were considering moving, she said.
“I cook every night,” she said. “And it went straight through the kitchen.”