MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As children play outside, they and their parents grow more concerned as New Year’s Eve approaches; afraid of people firing guns in celebration.
“I’ve always been raised where rocks have no eyes, bullets have no eyes,” said parent Tashara Fulton. “So even if you’re not aiming at a specific person, anything that goes up must come down.”
At just 7 years old, Leonidas Leone unfortunately knows the pain of losing a friend to a stray bullet.
His friend was King Carter, the little boy who was caught in a crossfire nearly 3 years ago.
“When he was playing he got shot,” Leone said, adding that he sometimes gets scared when playing outside.
Once again, Miami officials are reminding the public that it’s great to ring in the New Year with a celebration as long as it doesn’t involve gunfire.
On Wednesday, Miami police joined forces with community leaders and the Rickia Issac Foundation for the 20th annual “No More Stray Bullets” campaign which urges residents and visitors alike to abandon the tradition of firing bullets into the air to celebrate at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Isaac, 3, was shot and killed by a stray bullet in 1997 while walking home from a Martin Luther King Day parade.
Since Issac’s death her uncle, Rev. Jerome Starling, has been on a mission educate and stop people from firing guns.
“I ask today we send a message, just don’t shoot,” Starling said. “What goes up must come down.”
Community leaders are helping Starling get the word out that shooting a gun in the air to ring in the new year can have deadly, unintended consequences.
“Please consider heavily in your hearts the pain you will be instilling on an unknown family forever,” said Major Jorge Perez with the Miami-Dade Police Department. “Please consider the passion that exists when someone loses their child or loved one.”
Nearly every year, there are people who ignore the warnings, fire away and cause tragedies.
“I am tired of losing our children to gunfire. I’m tired of it,” said Opa-Locka Mayor Myra Taylor. “I’m tired of it.”
Just after midnight on January 1st, 2013, a man was injured when someone fired into the air in Miami.
Just after midnight on January 1st, 2010, a 6-year-old Italian tourist was struck in the chest by a falling bullet as he dined with his parents at a restaurant in Midtown.
An 11-year-old boy playing hide-and-seek behind a couch on December 31st, 2007, was struck and killed by five bullets after a man fired celebratory shots into the furniture.
Tragedy also 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.
If anyone hears gunfire or sees anything suspicious police want you to call them immediately.
Firing a weapon into the air is not only dangerous but illegal. It is a first-degree misdemeanor. But it can also mean a variety of charges, depending upon what the arresting officer decides at the time and what happens, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.