Police: Woman killed by neighbor's stray bullet

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A 73-year-old Riley Township woman was killed Sunday afternoon in a shooting police believe was the result of an errant round fired by a neighbor during target practice in his backyard.

Lt. Dave Kaiser of the Michigan State Police said Shirley Pfeil was killed in the shooting that took place about 12:40 p.m. Sunday, on the 13000 block of Dunn, in Riley Township in St. Clair County.

Pfeil was standing in her kitchen with her husband, when he heard a loud cracking sound, Kaiser said. Then he looked over and realized his wife had fallen to the floor.

Medics arrived, but ultimately Pfeil died from her injuries.

Police crime tape

Police said the neighbor was firing a rifle into a large dirt mound in his backyard. One of the shots missed the mark and instead came through the Pfeil family's kitchen window, striking the woman.

The 21-year-old male neighbor who allegedly fired the shots has been "very cooperative." 

"He's very devastated to learn that what he's been doing, his passion, target shooting, to learn that one of his rounds actually killed and hit somebody," Kaiser said.

Police seized the rifle believed to have been used in the shooting, but did not immediately make an arrest.

Police will present the case to the St. Clair County Prosecutor.

Kaiser said that police recommend that people shooting target practice have a backstop in place and to "make sure they're shooting in a safe direction, where if you miss the target or if it goes through, or if you have a stray round, nothing goes through."