PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Every year, police departments across the country warn residents and visitors to avoid shooting their weapons into the air for “celebratory gunfire.”
It happens at the turn of the new year, Fourth of July, and other holidays. Sometimes it results in damage or property or — worse — injury to people. 28-year-old La-tiyah Hood lost her life in the first few minutes of 2020. The mother of two was killed while at a New Year’s Eve party in Richmond.
This past July 4, a baby in Suffolk was grazed by a stray bullet. Police at the time said celebratory gunfire was likely to blame.
Portsmouth police on Thursday put out a news release urging people not to engage in celebratory gunfire. City officers will proactively patrol the city to address reckless shooting into the air on New Year’s Eve.
“We’re just really trying to spread the word this year to please not partake in celebratory gunfire or reckless shooting into the air, ” Portsmouth police spokeswoman Victoria Varnedo told WAVY.
Police said every year, stray bullets from celebratory gunfire impact homes throughout Portsmouth.
“This dangerous activity not only causes property damage and endangers the lives of residents, but it also causes confusion and stress. The Portsmouth Police Department wants to remind citizens that stray bullets are never harmless and that celebratory gunfire can be deadly,” Portsmouth police said.
Police continued: “There are many ways to celebrate 2022 without endangering the lives of others.”
“We will be patrolling through new year as we do every year, but we’ll be looking out for any celebratory gunfire,” Varnedo said.
Newport News police said: “Firearms expert Julian Hatcher studied falling bullets in the 1920s and his study showed that .30-caliber rounds can reach terminal velocities of 300 feet per second as they fall. More recent research has indicated that 200 feet per second is enough to penetrate the skull.”
Newport News police also warned that celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous but a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,500 fine and one year in jail. If it causes injury, it could be a felony charge.
Those with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP, downloading the P3 tips app to a mobile device, or visiting www.P3tips.com and submitting a tip.