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Drive-by shooting upsets residents of neighborhood

A bullet went through the window on the front door of Rachel Cobenais' home Saturday morning. Her home on Kay Avenue Southeast was damaged in a drive-by shooting. Pioneer Photo/ Bethany Wesley

Bonnie Wurl has lived in her home for more than 50 years and always believed she was in a safe neighborhood.

Until Monday.

Then, Wurl and other neighbors awoke to the sound of gunshots.

"It was like an explosion," recalled Rachel Cobenais, who lives in the home that was damaged. Twelve bullets were fired at the house.

The incident was reported just before 5 a.m. Saturday on the 400 block of Kay Avenue Southeast. The Bemidji Police Department has not released any details on the shooting, stating that the incident remains under investigation.

But Cobenais said police believe 12 shots were fired at her home. Six are suspected to have come from a higher-caliber weapon and six others from a lower-caliber weapon, such as perhaps a .22.

Cobenais has lived in her home about 10 years and said the neighborhood has always been safe.

"This is not an everyday occurrence on Kay Avenue," she said.

It was a feeling reflected by her neighbors as well.

"I've never had a problem," Wurl said, noting that she heard the shots from her bedroom. "It's scary."

Michele Straubel, who has lived in her home with her husband and three young children for nearly three years, said the family has always felt very comfortable in their home.

"It's unnerving," she said.

Cobenais' 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter have street-facing windows in their bedrooms, just feet from where some of the bullets struck the house.

"The kids won't sleep in their rooms now," Cobenais said.

Cobenais awoke to a "double explosion" Saturday morning and found glass sprayed throughout the living room, kitchen and hallway.

"The sound was just amazing; the amount of glass was just amazing," she recalled.

She found a bullet, which apparently went through a window on the front door, laying on the woodwork around a banister in the living room.

Another bullet struck the front of the house, passed through the wall and struck the baseboard heating system in the living room. The bullet was found in the heating system.

Cobenais said she was comforted by the support of her neighbors, who knew when her home light was turned on before 5 a.m. that something was wrong.

"We watch each others' stuff," she said. "We know each others' habits."

Cobenais believes the shooting was gang-related and that the suspects targeted the wrong home.

Cobenais said the block now has begun talking about organizing a neighborhood watch to become more proactive.

"We don't want it here. We want it out," she said of the activity. "Who wants to come home and be afraid?"

Cobenais reported the incident immediately and took her family to a nearby relative's house.

She said she was disappointed in how long it took for the police to determine the seriousness of the incident, noting that it was her ex-husband who actually found the six shell casings in the street later that day.

"At first, it was really scary," she said of the shooting. "Now it just makes me angry."