JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - On New Year’s Eve, police are on the lookout for a serious problem: celebratory gunfire.
It is because like the old saying goes: "what goes up must come down." Police here in Jax Beach and across our area are encouraging people to keep the guns down.
New Year's Eve two years ago was rough for pilot Graham Hill. He and his girlfriend went up to get a bird's eye view of fireworks when he was struck in the head by a bullet.
"I let her know that we had been shot at -- and just as soon as I said that, blood starting running down my neck,” Hill said in a YouTube video.
Hill was one of the fortunate survivors -- and a prime example of why celebratory gunfire is a bad idea.
"People don't think. They just go outside and fire a gun into the air. Where's that bullet? The bullet has to come down somewhere," said Jacksonville Beach Police Department Cmdr. Mark Evans.
Indeed it does. That's why so many people get hurt this time of year. The group Shot Spotters tracked 11,508 celebratory gunfire incidents nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2013. About 1,100 of those occurred in the last six hours of the year.
Illegal fireworks are also something to watch for.
"It's all fun and games until somebody gets an eye poked out or has to end up in the hospital because they have burns on their hands," said tourist Tina Goldstrom.
Hill wasn't the only one struck Jan. 1, 2013. An 8 year-old boy was hit in the leg by a bullet. They're incidents everyone hopes to prevent this New Year’s Eve.
"It's serious stuff. You see it all the time. On Fourth of July and obviously New Year's. People get hurt," Goldstrom said.
Celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous, it's illegal. Anyone caught doing it will be arrested, with no exceptions.