St. Petersburg, Florida - Are they fireworks or gun shots on New Year's Eve? Sometimes it's tough to distinguish the sounds, but a new public service announcement wants you to never question that again.
St. Petersburg's police chief and fire chief are in the video pleading for people to stop firing their guns up into the air to celebrate.
Just about every year in the Bay area, with the fireworks exploding overhead, someone down below is firing a gun up into sky. Their bullets tumble down and wind up hurting innocent bystanders, like a Ruskin teenager badly injured on New Years Day 2012.
A celebratory bullet from a mile away hit Diego Duran in the head. He spent five months in and out of the intensive care unit. His mother, Sandy Duran, said, "It's not a firework. It's not a balloon. You don't use guns to celebrate. There are purposes for a gun, and there's a time and a place."
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's day in 2013, Laurie Eberhardt was hurt after a bullet hit her in the hand. She told 10 News, "It's excruciating, almost like fire going into your arm and my wrist. I've never felt anything so painful and so scary." Eberhardt was in a cast for 10 months. She had to undergo surgery in Boston to have some bones removed from her hand too.
She's a yoga teacher and still only has partial use of her hand. She says the incident changed everything.
That's why St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon and Fire Chief James Large are speaking about it in a new public service announcement just released on Monday. The hope is to save lives.
The problem isn't just on New Years Eve or the 4th of July either. Just a few weeks ago, 62-year-old Walter Santiago of Wesley Chapel had to get six stitches in his forehead after a stray bullet whizzed through the open driver's side window of his car while he was driving.
The bullet grazed him and then cracked the windshield where his 13-year-old granddaughter was sitting. Santiago said, "And when I looked toward my granddaughter, she says, 'Grandpa, I think you've been shot. You're bleeding.'"
Eberhardt says she has a message to share with anyone thinking of firing a gun into the air. "Just find another way to celebrate."