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'Scary And Disturbing': Police Investigate After Plane Apparently Shot Near Gardner Airport

TEMPLETON (CBS) – A plane may have been shot while landing at Gardner Municipal Airport in Templeton Monday afternoon. A student pilot and the instructor on the Cessna 172M heard the plane get hit.

Dominic Scalera of the Worcester Flying Club owns a share of the single engine Cessna. He showed WBZ-TV a bullet hole in the left wing, a shot that also pierced the plane's fuel tank.

"It's insane," Scalera said. "It's extremely scary and disturbing that someone would shoot at an airplane randomly in the sky."

It was just after noon when a student pilot with the Worcester Flying Club was practicing his takeoffs and landings with an instructor onboard.

"They heard a loud pop, and while they were trying to figure out what the pop was, he told me they could eventually smell fuel," said Chris Kosak of the Worcester Flying Club.

They landed quickly and then took video of fuel dripping from the plane. But it wasn't until they spotted the hole and mechanics removed and inspected the fuel tank that they found a .22 caliber bullet and realized someone had shot the aircraft on landing approach.

State Police swarmed the airfield, securing the plane and retrieving the bullet before scouring the woods surrounding the airport, including a nearby sandlot where teens are known to target shoot.

State Police say troopers could not definitively say the tank rupture was from a gunshot.

The student pilot told WBZ he'd rather not talk about the incident.

"I'm sure he's looking to get back up in the air again, we just have to get his plane fixed," Kosak said.

That student pilot is very close to earning his solo wings, but he'll certainly remember this flight.

On Tuesday, the FAA and State Police suspended their involvement in the investigation. Templeton Police are now leading the investigation.

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