Fireworks or gunshots? How to tell the difference and when to call 911

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- It's less than one week away from July 4 and already many are celebrating with fireworks, but if you hear a loud bang, how do you know if it's a firework or gunshot? And when should you call 911?

On June 11, neighbors at a south side apartment complex said they heard loud pops, but didn't call 911 because they didn't think the noise was gunshots. The sound was gunshots though. Erin Mills, 34, was killed and another person seriously hurt.

Even officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said it can be difficult to hear the difference between a gunshot and fireworks.

"If you hear a very quick, rapid sound, that usually is fireworks," said Sgt. Kendale Adams. He said fireworks sound "very hollow and they usually have a very prolonged sound trail."

If you're still not sure of the difference, it's always best to call 911. Police respond to every call for a possible gunshot.

With Fourth of July weekend coming up, police will have extra patrols out already, keeping an eye on criminal activity, and they will be listening too.

"A lot of times they’re in the areas themselves and they’re able to decipher between whether it was fireworks it was a gunshot," Sgt. Adams explained.

If you think someone may be setting off fireworks illegally, you can call police to file a report.

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