Deputies warn about celebratory gunfire

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office delivered an important Fourth of July warning Friday: Don't fire guns into the air.

Maj. Rob Bullara said it's a reminder deputies put out every six months or so as Independence Day or New Year's Eve approaches.

"No firing into the sky to celebrate the Fourth of July," Bullara said. "I think we're all very proud to be Americans and it's the country's birthday, but remember, whatever goes up has got to come down somewhere and hopefully it doesn't hurt anybody."

That has happened several times in the Tampa Bay area in recent years. In December, a stray bullet hit a woman celebrating the New Year at Busch Gardens.  

A year earlier, a .45 caliber round crashed through the roof of Lorenea Touchton's home in Tampa.

In 2013, Laurie Eberhardt was a victim. She was celebrating the New Year at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and a bullet hit her in the arm.

"All of a sudden I looked down and blood was just squirting out and I realized I had been shot," she told FOX 13 at the time. "I am so lucky the bullet didn't hit an artery or shatter a bone."

In 2012, Diego Duran was nearly killed when a bullet falling from the sky hit him in the head.

"I don't want it to happen to anybody else," Diego told FOX 13 two years later.

"We hope for no bullets in the sky and no innocent lives lost just because they are outside celebrating," added his mother, Sandy Duran.

The Duran family has since launched an ongoing awareness campaign called "Bullet Free Sky" which aims at preventing these incidents.

Deputies don't mind sounding like broken records.

"Please use common sense before shooting a firearm into the air just to celebrate the Fourth of July," Bullara said.

According to the CDC, 80 percent of those hurt by celebratory gunfire are hit in the head, feet and shoulders.