MIAMI (CBS4) – 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.
On Tuesday various city and county officials, including high ranking leaders within the police departmets of the City of Miami, North Miami, Opa-Locka as well as Miami-Dade County Police came together to ask the public to leave their guns at home. They added that not only is it dangerous to fire into the air because stray bullets can kill, it’s also a crime.
The “No Stray Bullets” campaign is an annual event, but it’s a message worth repeating. In recent years in the City of Miami, stray bullets have not been a problem. City officials believe this passionate campaign is the reason why. But they don’t want that record to be ruined by an injury or death this holiday weekend.
The stopping of celebratory gunfire is important to Jaqueline Washington, whose five year old daughter Rickia Isaac died in January 1997 after being hit by a stray bullet.
“This little girl could’ve had the cure for cancer. She could’ve been the president of the United States,” said Assistant Miami Police Chief Jorge Gomez.
Rickia is the reason Washington speaks about the painful reminder that firing a gun into the air can have deadly results.
“Please do not shoot today or tomorrow. Let’s have a good day, a blessed day,” said Washington.
“Please put the guns down. Celebrating with guns is going to get you arrested,” said added Chief Gomez.
Gomez said his department will have extra officers on the streets looking for guns, but teh officers can’t be everywhere. He urges people to convince their family, friends and neighbors to put their guns away. When in doubt call the police.
“If you see somebody with a gun out there, it is an emergency, call 9-1-1,” said Gomez.
Just last month in Miramar, 15-year old Brandon Reed was shot in the head during another celebration- the Miami Heat’s championship victory.
“They pulled a 9mm slug out of my son’s head. We were simply sitting in the living room watching TV in a secure, enclosed home,” said Marvin Reid, Brandon’s father.
Other children have lost their lives in recent years from celebrations gone wrong.
“Let’s have a great Fourth of July so we can live to talk about it. So we can say no one got shot, no one was killed,” said community activest Revererend Jerome Starling.
On New Year’s Eve of this year, a Miami man was injured by a stray bullet from someone who fired gun into the air at the stroke of midnight. Fortunately, the bullet grazed the unidentified man’s upper left shoulder.
Anyone caught firing a gun into the air will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. If a bullet fired into the air actually hits someone, the charges become more serious.