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Indiana police warn that shootings on the Fourth of July can be deadly

Indiana police warn that shootings on the Fourth of July can be deadly

Indiana police warn that shootings on the Fourth of July can be deadly

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Tiffany Barnett was nine years old when her older brother was killed by a bullet fired into the air. She never imagined that years later someone doing the same thing would affect her.

It was just after midnight on New Year’s Day when a bullet went through the ceiling of her home and lodged in the drywall. She and her family had just finished celebrating together.

“We heard it, but we didn’t realize it was so close to home. We heard people shooting outside in the neighborhood. I didn’t realize it until I went to change the dog’s bowl. I saw white powder and residue on the floor, so I looked up and there was a silver piece sticking out,” Barnett said.

His thoughts immediately turned to his brother, who was shot in the air outside a club years earlier.

“He was minding his own business… Someone fired a shot into the air, the bullet landed and went through his brain. I kept thinking that it could easily have been my mother, my husband or the dog. I didn’t feel safe in my neighbourhood anymore. We called the police,” she said.

Don’t be that person: You shouldn’t shoot a gun in the air this 4th of July. Just don’t do it.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police said they get a higher number of calls for possible gunshots twice a year, and that’s on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Fireworks can often be mistaken for gunshots, but police said some people shoot off ammunition “to celebrate” the holidays.

Firing a firearm into the air could constitute criminal recklessness, and if you do so, police say you will be arrested.

“Just a few years ago we lost a juvenile in a similar incident where a gun was fired into the air and a bullet struck the child. That family continues to suffer every time the Fourth of July comes around when it should be a time of celebration,” Indianapolis Police Officer Tommy Thompson said. “Unfortunately, for them, it’s a reminder of how dangerous it is to fire a gun into the air.”

People can get hurt: 13-year-old Indiana boy dies in hospital after being hit by gunshot

Thompson said officers will be spread out across the city, prepared for the flood of calls they anticipate will come in overnight. Police are also reminding people that they have until midnight to set off fireworks and that if they see anything that threatens life or property, they should call 911.

“Let’s enjoy this time with our friends and family,” Thompson said, “and remember, if you or anyone is thinking about shooting a gun in the air, think twice. ‘Maybe I won’t do it because what if that person is my family that gets hit by a bullet?'”

Pamela Gray has three children and 10 grandchildren who celebrate the Fourth of July. As she prepares for the holiday, she knows there are people who blindly fire their guns into the air because she can hear them.

“They’re just as stupid as anyone else who shoots a gun. They have no other way to celebrate, so they just keep shooting. With bullets, you don’t know where they’re going to land,” Gray said.

We’ve talked about this before: ISP says it’s ‘very foolish’ to fire guns into the air on July 4

Barnett believes people are desensitized to the dangers of firing bullets into the air.

“It’s a very normal thing, something you expect until it happens to you. Even my family was desensitized to it. We would just lay in bed and relax at home listening to the gunshots after the fireworks,” Barnett said.

Indiana State Police Capt. Ron Galaviz said they want people to enjoy the holidays and celebrate, but to do so responsibly.

“It is illegal to shoot a firearm blindly into the air. It is totally unsafe and disrespectful to the safety of others. You don’t know where a bullet might land,” Galaviz said. “What goes up, must come down.”

Seriously, don’t do this: Please, please, please, please, please, please don’t shoot your gun in the air on the 4th of July.

And the punishment can be harsh.

“It can be a Level 6 felony when a deadly weapon is used. It can be a Level 5 felony if the discharge of that weapon results in the death or injury of another person. Our agency may cover more rural areas than a city, but these bullets can travel a good distance even in the middle of nowhere,” Galaviz said.

Barnett wants people not to fire their guns into the air on the Fourth of July (or any other day).

“This has affected me twice in my life. Once when my brother was killed by this and twice when we could have been,” Barnett said. “Someone shot in my house and I want it stopped, banned or a tougher law put in place against this.”

Contact Jade Jackson at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON