By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — Windham and Pelham police found five men target shooting yesterday afternoon not far from Windham Middle and Golden Brook schools, which have gone on alert twice in the last week due to gunfire.
Police arrested one of the men, David Peet, 20, of Windham, charging him with carrying a concealed firearm without a permit and internal possession, an alcohol-related offense.
Pelham police Sgt. Anne Perriello said Peet had the loaded gun in his jacket.
Police expected to release Peet last night with a court appearance scheduled for Jan. 28 in 10th Circuit Court in Salem.
Police did not identity the other four men, who were from Pelham and Windham.
They were in the Wilson Road neighborhood when police located them. Perriello said the men had permission from the landowner to be on the property.
Officers from both departments walked through thick woods to find the men target practicing in an open field.
Perriello said the officers spoke to the men about how gunfire had led to heightened alert at the local schools.
The men were cooperative and officers gave them rides to their vehicles, she said.
“They will no longer cause an alarm out there,” Perriello said.
But the group denied target shooting on the property last week, when the Windham Middle School was put into lockdown.
Perriello said there is a very good chance target shooting on the property in the past has been a source of the gunfire heard at the schools.
Police responded yesterday morning for the second time in a week for a report of gunfire near Windham Middle and Golden Brook schools.
Windham police Capt. Mike Caron said the schools did not go into lockdown, but police asked school officials to keep staff and students indoors while they investigated.
Police didn’t find anyone.
“More than likely, this was somebody over there legally target shooting,” Caron said.
Caron was hoping police would be able to locate the people using guns and explain to them the concern it was causing for schools.
Windham school business administrator Adam Steel said gun owners may not be doing anything illegal, but are contributing to the level of concern.
“Common sense says they should be a lot farther away from a school in this day and age,” Steel said.
State law prohibits discharging a firearm within 300 feet of a building. But the federal Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 prohibits possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public or private school.
Yesterday was the fourth time since the fatal student shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., last month that officials have taken precautionary measures in Windham schools.
On Jan. 2, police investigated a report of gunfire near Golden Brook and Windham Middle schools that resulted in a lockdown at the middle school.
But police Chief Gerald Lewis said police were unable to find the source of the noise or confirm it was gunfire.
On Dec. 20, police were stationed at schools after a possible threat, later deemed not credible, surfaced via social media out of state.
On Dec. 16, students were confined to classrooms at Windham High as police searched the building after a loud bang.