Veteran describes random shoot-out in his own backyard: “everybody had to get down”

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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. -- An army veteran is grateful the results of a surprise shoot-out in his backyard weren't worse this weekend.

Robert Cheatam said he was relaxing in his backyard with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and brother-in-law Sunday when they found themselves in the middle of a shoot-out between two men.

Cheatam said he scrambled to protect his family and told everyone to get down on the ground.

“He ran right across my back porch while I was laying on the floor. Everybody had to get down, so many shots fired,” he said.

He said the two men fired 12 shots.

He thinks one man had just broken in to the other man’s home. He did not recognize either man.

“He jumped this fence. I don’t know how he got over this fence without injuring himself," Cheatam said. “That’s not the right thing to do, just start shooting because bystanders can get hit.”

Two of the bullets actually went into the house. One of them went through a couple walls and landed right in front of the stove. If someone had been cooking, they could’ve been hit or possibly killed.

"One came through my boat," Cheatam said.

He’s shaken up, though no one was hurt.

Now Cheatam and his older friends in the neighborhood just want to send a message.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with the kids now. They don’t know how to fist fight. They have to pick up a gun,” he said.

“They got nothing to do but get in trouble. The parents aren’t raising their kids like when I came up in the 50s,” his friend John Gause, Sr. said.

Police said one man left a white Nike sneaker behind. They searched a nearby house but were unable to find the suspects.

If anyone has information, call 870-572-3441.

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