Phoenix Toddler Struck by Random Gunfire on New Year’s Eve

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
January 2, 2020USshare
Phoenix Toddler Struck by Random Gunfire on New Year’s Eve
A policeman stands guard in Phoenix, Ariz., on July 31, 2010. (John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX—Random gunfire struck and injured a toddler on New Year’s Eve in a Phoenix backyard, police said Wednesday.

The 3-year-old boy was expected to survive the wound left by a bullet fragment Tuesday night, the Arizona Republic reported.

Police are searching for whoever fired the shots, said Phoenix police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune.

Though it wasn’t immediately clear why the shots were fired, shooting guns into the air to celebrate the New Year and other holidays is a longstanding practice in some places.

In Arizona, the practice became a felony punishable by up to two years in prison after a stray bullet killed a 14-year-old girl in Phoenix.

The measure stiffening penalties was called “Shannon’s Law” after Shannon Smith, who was killed by a stray bullet in 1999.

Since then, police have knocked on doors to warn people about firing guns on holidays.

They can also use a system called ShotSpotter, a system that pinpoints the location where a gun has been fired.

Celebratory Gunfire on New Year’s Eve

Although rare, people being shot by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve and other holidays like the Fourth of July does happen, prompting law enforcement authorities to caution people that bullets fired into the air can endanger people’s lives.

“Our message has always been not to do it because it’s dangerous and illegal in our city,” police Lt. Mario Campos said.

“Bullets can travel a long distance. Any gunfire discharged into the air has to come down and land on something.”

A 9-year-old boy in Cleveland was wounded by a stray bullet last New Year’s Eve as he watched television inside his family’s home. The boy’s mother declined to be interviewed.

Another 9-year-old boy in Atlanta was shot in the abdomen by celebratory gunfire early January 2019, while he and his family set off fireworks.

A 4-year-old boy was killed in 2010 in Decatur, Georgia, when an AK-47 round penetrated a church roof and struck him in the head as he sat next to his parents during a New Year’s Eve service.

A 2004 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people struck by gunfire shot into the air are most likely to be hit in the head.

By Mark Gillispie

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