Police discourage celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve

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Praying woman unhurt by stray New Year’s Eve bullet

INDIANAPOLIS (December 31, 2014) – While most people are thinking about their party plans for New Year’s Eve, Donisha Council is thinking about her family’s safety.

“People at work ask what I’m doing for New Year’s,” Council said. “And I tell them I’m going to sit at home away from windows.”

On New Year’s Eve 2012, a stray bullet crashed through a window on North Euclid Avenue and landed on the foot of the bed where Council’s 2-year-old daughter was sleeping. The bullet and shattered glass didn’t injure the little girl. In fact, the breaking window didn’t even wake her up. But two years later, on this day, Council can’t help but think about what could have happened.

“My daughter could have been hurt,” she said. “If my son had been sitting there, my son could have been hurt. It can hurt people and this could have been a different story.”

Exactly one year later, Rachel Stevenson had just returned to her apartment from a New Year’s Even church service. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, reading from her Bible, when a stray bullet smashed through her window, ricocheted off her ceiling and hit her in the back. The bullet bounced off her back without leaving a mark.

“And I picked it up and the police was like, ‘Well, this is your good luck bullet,'” Stevenson told FOX59. “‘You might as well put it on a chain because this is your good luck bullet.'”

Over the years, celebratory gunfire has left countless windows shattered, walls damaged, cars dented and people frightened.

It’s nothing new. Repair workers would use tape to patch up bullet holes in the RCA Dome after New Year’s Eve gunfire.

But Indianapolis Metropolitan police hope this year will be different.

“We want people to understand that yes, it’s an exciting time,” said Officer Chris Wilburn with IMPD. “We want you to be celebratory in whatever you do, but you also have to understand that what goes up must come down. And these guns don’t discriminate.”

A bullet fired into the air can fall back to earth at between 200 and 500 feet per second, depending on the caliber. At that velocity, it can pierce a human skull, causing serious injury or death.

Fortunately, that hasn’t happened in Indianapolis on New Year’s Eve. But other cities have seen residents killed by celebratory gunfire over the years.

Council and her children represent a close call. She still doesn’t know who fired the shot that almost hit her little girl. But she is pleading with anyone planning to party with a gun this New Year’s Eve.

“I can’t even think about what could have happened,” Council said. “People need to think about their actions. Because you shooting a gun off celebrating the new year, you could have ended someone’s life.”

Firing a gun in Marion County is illegal unless it’s in self defense or at a firing range. A felony criminal recklessness charge can mean six months to 2 1/2 years behind bars, and fines up to $10,000.