Washington City » As often as he can, Don Kimball works to renovate a big home that will offer secure apartments for women and children who have fled domestic violence and exhausted their time in shelters.
But literally a stone’s throw away, a gunsmith shop plans a shooting range with 11 lanes, one for tactical weaponry used by law enforcement, that point at Kimball’s property.
The fact that the range has been approved by Washington City is painfully personal for Kimball and his wife, Sue — in 1983, their daughter Erin and her two small children were shot to death by her husband, who then killed himself.
The home sits just above Dixie GunWorx, whose website says, "We do it all: Buy, Sell, Trade, Find, Fix, Modify and Transfer."
The operation was granted permission by the City Council to build the range, which could be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Sue Kimball, who with her husband founded the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation 14 years ago, says the idea that their tenants might hear the gunfire "makes me sick."
Erin’s and the children’s lives, she said, "ended with gunshots, and the only thing we have on the death certificates is multiple gunshots to all three of them. It’s such a violation of our work and of our daughter, literally."
Terror » Yvette Rodier, who survived multiple gunshot wounds in 1997 at Little Dell Reservoir, tells of her ongoing torment from the attack. Firearms, a balloon popping, gunshots on TV, a car backfiring and fireworks all leave her frozen in place, her heart beating wildly.
"It’s just terror, pure terror," she said. "I would like to think time would help, but 17 years later, I still can’t get my brain around it. I can’t imagine those women [at the Kimball] home, who want to feel safe."
Dixie GunWorx first appeared before the city’s Planning Commission on July 23. CEO Chris Michel and his business partner, Jacob Cooper, described the noise abatement, safety precautions and timeline for the range, according to meeting minutes.
For safety, they said, the back wall would include rubber mats over steel-plated ballistic panels in front of an 8-inch-thick cinder brick wall filled with concrete. If a bullet were to get through the steel panel and the wall, it would hit a dirt bank.
Cooper said gunshot noise would not be heard if a person was standing next to Telegraph Street in front of the gunsmith shop and the Kimball home. The ceiling would be fitted with sound baffles.
Cooper "stated he isn’t convinced there would be any sound louder than traffic," according to the minutes.
Neither Cooper nor Michel responded to Salt Lake Tribune telephone messages to their business. However, Michel told Fox13 TV in August that he’s thankful to the Kimball home "for what they do for the victims themselves. [We hope they] take some of our classes. We would love to do that for anybody that’s been that kind of a victim, for free. Some of the classes we’re going to be able to help them with are self-defense, home defense, rape prevention."
But Sue Kimball, herself a victim of violence in her first marriage, told the council that the Erin Kimball Foundation "is a place for families fleeing domestic violence and … trying to get away from knives and guns, any form of weapons."
Safe place » The home will have the foundation’s offices, meeting rooms and baths and laundry room on the main floor. The upper floor will have three apartments of varying size where tenants can stay for up to two years.
The gun shop can be seen through the windows in the east-facing apartment. Don Kimball will build a playground on the property and a wall between the home and the gunsmith shop.
Still, he said, "You can’t build a wall high enough."
All told, Sue Kimball and her employees and volunteers plan to offer counseling, housing assistance and other services to about 150 people a year.Next Page >
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