RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Celebratory gunfire during New Year’s Eve celebrations is common and often has tragic results when falling bullets hit innocent people.
The Richmond Police Department is warning people about the dangers of using a firearm to ring in the new year.
“The reality is that any bullet discharged from a gun, even into the sky, must land somewhere, and when it does, the risk of injury or death is significant,” said Tracy Walker of RPD.
According to RPD, incidents of indiscriminate gunfire can become deadly and willfully discharging a weapon into the air that causes injury to another person can bring a felony charge punishable by one to five years in prison.
A bullet fired into the air can climb two miles into the air and remain in flight for more than a minute, according to RPD. When it falls, the bullet can reach a velocity of 300 to 700 feet per second — when only 200 feet per second is enough to penetrate a human skull.
RPD received 70 calls for service with random reports of gunfire during the 2020 New Year’s Eve holiday into New Year’s Day 2021 — which was down 34% from the previous year.
During the 2019/20 New Year’s celebrations, 107 calls were reported compared to 195 in 2018/19.
Minutes into 2020, however, 28-year-old mother of two La-tiyah Hood was killed at a home as a group of people celebrated by shooting guns into the air, Walker said.
RPD is asking the community to celebrate the New Year safely by not firing guns into the air — stating “what goes up, must come down, and when a bullet comes down it could be fatal to you or someone you love.”