Ringing in the New Year with a bang? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Ringing in the New Year with a bang?

APD Lt. Michael Persley APD Lt. Michael Persley

Police are warning about a New Year's Eve tradition that can be deadly.

Every year there are reports of injuries, even deaths from celebratory gunfire. In the city of Albany, it's illegal to discharge a firearm, but every New Year, dozens of reports are called in.

When the clock strikes twelve, the guns go off. "When firing a weapon what goes up, must come down. There have been a lot of reports in the past across the nation but complaints and concern especially here in Albany," said APD Lt. Michael Persley.

Each year Albany-Dougherty 911 is inundated with calls from people all reporting the same thing. "You will probably get 100 to 200 calls and not just Albany but you got to include the county police," said Persley.

And while firing into the air may seem harmless, those bullets land somewhere. In 2008, a bullet went through the windshield of this SUV outside an Albany apartment.

Last year, a Valdosta homeowner discovered where a bullet fired in the air went through his home. And in on New Year's Day 2010 little Marquel Peters was killed by a stray bullet that pierced the roof a Decatur, Georgia church where he and his mother were attending a night watch party. The 4-year-old was struck in the head and died.

It led his mother to create the website Marquel's Pledge which encourages to people to not take part in celebratory gunfire. Here in Albany firing a gun in the city limits is illegal.

"Depending on the severity of the incidents it could go anywhere from a citation being issued to getting arrested and going to jail," said Persley.

And if someone gets seriously hurt or killed, the punishment could be much worse and a bad start to the New Year.

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