By Brian Messenger
---- — BOXFORD — An afternoon on the golf course took a sudden dangerous turn for four local men on Friday when gunfire from a nearby Haverhill farm interrupted their league match at Far Corner Golf Club.
“Bullets came flying across the fairway — five or six maybe — before it stopped,” said Vincent Dalessandro, Jr., of North Andover. “I’ve got enough trouble with my golf game, I don’t need that.”
Police quickly responded to Crescent Farm on Willow Avenue in Haverhill, where they found Corey Willis, of 130 Oxford Ave., holding a black .40 caliber Glock handgun. Willis, who works as a Haverhill firefighter, told police he was target shooting. He was not arrested and will not be charged in the incident.
“It was certainly reckless behavior,” said Haverhill police Lt. Robert Pistone. “If charges could have been brought they would have, but the District Attorney made the ruling that there was no criminal element associated with the incident.”
Far Corner Golf Club is in Boxford near the Haverhill line. The incident was reported to Boxford police at 4:14 p.m. by one of the four golfers on the 11th hole at the time the bullets came whizzing past.
One of the golfers, Edward Snell of North Andover, said the foursome heard shots fired in the distance — which isn’t uncommon giving the course’s proximity to the Haverhill Hound, Rod & Gun Club.
But then Snell said a bullet kicked up a divot in the fairway. A second bullet was heard travelling overhead through the canopy of some nearby trees, prompting them to take cover, he said.
Both Snell and golf course owner Bob Flynn said they believe Willis should face criminal charges.
“I think he should have been charged,” said Flynn. “I’ll have to talk to the Haverhill police and see what their explanation is.”
The incident was initially reported by Boxford police as a “weapons violation/active shooting,” according to a report written by Patrolman Matthew Dupont. In the report, Dupont wrote that he had responded to similar calls in the past and knew “the owner of Crescent Farm ... allows target shooting on his property which runs adjacent to the golf course.”
While a second officer checked on the golfers, Dupont responded to Crescent Farm along with members of the Haverhill Police Department. They found Willis holding the handgun after entering the farm property.
“Willis stated that he was target shooting and drew our attention to a brush pile that he was utilizing as a burm/backstop,” wrote Dupont. “It should be noted that the brush pile was directly in line with the golf course. Furthermore, at least one of the ‘greens’ on the course can be seen in the distance.”
Haverhill detectives soon arrived and gathered ballistic evidence, according the report.
The four golfers on the 11th hole at the time of the incident were Dalessandro, Snell, Timothy Willis and Robert Zieba. All four men are from North Andover.
“It’s one of those stories that I guess you’ll tell for a long time,” said Dalessandro. “Thankfully, everyone’s fine.”