Family mourns daughter killed by stray bullet

FERNDALE -- On Sunday afternoon, Debbie Engler heard gunshots coming from a field behind her backyard. Deputies said a group of five men were firing off shots a half-mile away, and one of those bullets hit 23-year-old Alyssa Smith in the chest. Smith was at her parent’s house celebrating Father’s Day.

Just moments before she was shot, neighbors called 911 to report hearing gunshots. When paramedics arrived, they rushed Smith to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

“Alyssa was a wonderful, sweet and loving young woman whose life was tragically taken from us. She had the biggest heart and loved everyone and everything in which she came into contact,” her uncle, Mike Bacon, said.

Two of the men firing the weapons are convicted felons and are not supposed have firearms. On Tuesday, the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office charged 40-year-old Douglas Quiding and 23-year-old Robert Allen Lee with unlawful possession of a firearm and said more charges could be coming.

Deputies said the men were on private property. Neighbors tell us people duck hunt there, but think any other shooting should happen somewhere else.

“There are established target areas around here in Custer and down by Lake Samish, so why people would be target shooting in their back yard I don’t understand,” neighbor Mike Hoeruegel said.

Close friends of the victim’s family are devastated and are now scared to be in their own backyards.

“Down here we think we’re safe and I have to call my daughter and say ‘Alyssa’s been shot. Lock your doors get the kids in the house’. That’s not right and not fair and they should not be able to walk the streets,” neighbor Debbie Engler said.