When the bullet smashed through the living room window of Rick Patt’s Bucks County farmhouse, he was asleep. He didn’t hear the gunshot. He didn’t hear the glass break.
It wasn’t until early the next morning, soon after he woke up, that Patt noticed the small hole in the window surrounded by a web of cracks. He stared at it until the idea formed: “It looked like, you know, like a bullet hole.”
Patt called police, who later found a hole in the wooden mantle across his living room. The bullet was small caliber. Probably some kids out causing trouble or an errant shot from a hunter, an officer told Patt. Patt doubted it.
That was 2005. Three years earlier, Patt had moved from New York City into the 1790s-era stone house in rural Pennsylvania. The 52-year-old former hospital radiologist never had trouble with the locals. Truth is, he hadn’t met many of them.
For most of the time he lived in Tinicum, Patt kept to himself. He ran his pharmaceutical consulting business from the barn behind his house and entertained friends from the city for country weekends.
Not long before someone shot through his window, Patt learned that developers planned to cover a farm field less than a mile from his home with 192 apartments, a pool, and a community center. That proposal turned out to be only a small part of the plans developers have for Tinicum.
In all, developers filed plans for 460 garden apartments, 42 townhomes, 10 multiplex apartments, 137 single-family homes, and a waste water treatment plant that would discharge into nearby Tohickon Creek, a shale-bottomed waterway popular with hikers, fishers, and kayakers.
Patt decided to organize his neighbors and fight back.
As he stood staring at the bullet hole in his window, Patt worried that the shot was fired as a warning. Now three years later, as the land-use battle makes its way toward the courts, Patt is sure of it. Someone is trying to rattle his nerves.