Charges for alleged squirrel-shooter

By Jason Hawk -

A bullet that punched through a fence and into a Beverly Drive home was traced back to a man shooting at squirrels, according to police.

Zbigniew Puza, 71, of Amherst, was charged Thursday with discharging firearms inside the city, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and criminal damaging, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Puza confessed to firing a .22-caliber rifle on Sept. 6 at squirrels “that were a nuisance to him and his property,” Sgt. Mike Murphy wrote in a media release.

A bullet went through three walls of a neighboring home at chest level. Officers found white plastic on the living room floor from a light switch shattered by the projectile’s passage. Detectives traced holes to a kitchen wall, where the bullet was lodged.

They obtained a search warrant for a Meadowview Lane home where Puza lives and located two firearms and a video surveillance system.

Amherst police said the case reinforces why guns should never be fired within the city.

“Really, there’s no good reason to discharge a firearm in the city… It is a violation. Things happen. Accidents happen. Fortunately, nobody was at home when this round hit the house,” Murphy said in a phone interview.

Even a small-caliber firearm is a danger, he said.

Protecting your life is the only justifiable reason to fire a weapon inside Amherst’s limits — and only as a last resort, said Murphy.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk