MIAMI (CBS4)- City and county officials wanted the public to know that it’s great to ring in the New Year with a celebration as long as it doesn’t involve gunfire.
Friday morning, Hialeah and Opa Locka officials echoed a similar message asking the public to “stop the violence.”
“We want to make sure that there is no discharging of weapons. Number one, what goes up must come down,” said Myra Taylor, Mayor of the City of Opa Locka.
It’s a message they feel is worth repeating each year as folks participate in New Years celebrations across South Florida.
In years past, a number of people have been seriously wounded or killed by falling bullets on New Year’s Eve.
“Our children are all out, especially here in the city of Opa Locka, we have children that have been killed by stray bullet,” Taylor said.
Wherever you decide to ring in the New Year, Opa Locka and Hialeah city officials wants to ensure that all citizens celebrate responsibly and safely in both cities.
City of Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina said that sadly it is a tragedy that occurs each year at this time.
“If someone says 10 minutes before 12, ‘I’m going to pull out a gun’, that somebody stands up and says ‘no.’ Don’t shoot up in the air, don’t shoot in the ground,” Robaina said.
Chief Mark Overton of the Hialeah Police Department wants to remind the public that celebratory bullets shot up in the air must come down and shouldn’t take a family down with it as well.
“We’re trying to tell people to think before they act and know that if you go out and shoot a firearm within city limits, it is against the law just to do that, the mere act is against the law, but too, you may take a life,” Overton said.
A day earlier, dozens of police officers and Miami officials, including City of Miami Mayor Tomas P. Regalado and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey M. Edmonson, gathered at a press conference at Juan Pablo Duarte Park.
At the conference, they warned residents and visitors of the dangers of firing celebratory gun shots in the air and the possibility of killing bystanders.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, wants everyone to know “that we can celebrate the New Year without firing guns into the air. When you fire and shoot a bullet into the air, that bullet is coming down. Gravity states that bullet is coming down and it will come down on someone or someone’s property and it can be fatal.”
It’s a site that many in law enforcement say is avoidable. Miami-Dade Police Department Director, Jim Loftus, said it’s a matter of common sense.
“Someone who would take something so dangerous and point it in the air has a reckless disregard for everybody in the community,” he said. “Everyone understands gravity at this point. We just want them to understand the gravity of what they do.”
Several tragic deaths and serious injuries resulting from stray bullets in recent years motivated officials to launch the awareness campaign
‘One Bullet Kills The Party’, spear-headed by Regalado, to remind the community that stray bullets can injure or kill innocent bystanders.
“We are stepping up the campaign hoping that what happened last year will not happen again. If we only can avoid one incident, this campaign would’ve worked.”
The incident the mayor was referring to involved a six-year-old Italian boy who was shot in the chest by a stray bullet shortly after midnight as he dined with his parents at a restaurant in Midtown.
Tragedy struck in 2007, when one man was killed and four people were wounded, including a 10-year-old girl, as a result of New Year’s Eve gunfire.
Four years ago, Officer Shirley Harvard lost her nephew on New Year’s Eve to celebratory gunfire.
“It’s not a day go by that I don’t think about it,” said Harvard. “And then on New Year’s Eve it’s like it hits me, it’s like it just happened.”
Corey Baker died instantly when a bullet pierced the top of his head as he was standing outside. It left four children fatherless and his aunt in constant grief. “That was the son that I never had,” Harvard said.
‘One Bullet Kills a Party’ is a campaign message that applies to all celebrations. Mayor Regalado believes the campaign is working because there were no shootings reported this past July 4th, a holiday where people also tend to shoot gunfire into the air.
If anyone hears gunfire or sees anything suspicious police want you to call them immediately.
Story reported with contributions from CBS4’s Cristina Puig.