MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Fourth of July is all about barbecues, picnics, family time and of course fireworks.
It is not the time, however, to bring out a gun and fire it in the air to celebrate.
“If we went one Fourth of July with no one shot here in Miami-Dade County, I think it would be some type of history that we made here. Let’s try to do that so we won’t have to come here to Ryder to visit a loved one to visit a family member,” said Rev. Jerome Starling whose niece, Rickia Isaac was killed by a stray bullet back in 1997.
Not only is it dangerous to fire into the air because stray bullets can kill, it’s also a crime.
The “No More Stray Bullets” campaign is an annual event, but it’s a message worth repeating.
Sherdavia Jenkins was only nine when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet as she played on the stoop of her Liberty City residence in 2006.
Three years ago a woman in Ft. Lauderdale was hit by a stray bullet.
April Johnson was sitting on the sidewalk in front of her brother’s home, with her one year old nephew on her lap. She felt a sharp pain in her left thigh. Miraculously, her nephew escaped harm.
Johnson said the bullet came out of thin air. She doesn’t believe anyone on the street where she was sitting, fired the gun.
As for Rickia Isaac, she died at just 5-years-old, hit by a stray bullet and killed while walking home from a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Her name is now being used to save lives. Since her death there have been 19 press conferences with the same message – no more stray bullets.
Rickia’s uncle says he believes the the press conferences are working and the message is getting out to put the guns down, but he acknowledges that so much more needs to be done.
“People need to take it personal just like I do and make a difference in their community door by door, block by block. That’s what it’s all about,” said Rev. Starling.
In recent years in the City of Miami, stray bullets have not been a problem. City officials believe this campaign is the reason why. But they don’t want that record to be ruined by an injury or death this holiday.
Police have asked for the community’s help to keep their neighborhoods safe. Authorities will also be on high alert.
Anyone who sees or hears someone firing a gun to celebrate the holiday is also urged to call 911.