Local police agencies on alert due to ‘celebratory gunfire’ hazard

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- As usual, there will be a lot of noise at the stroke of midnight as party-goers ring in the New Year. But it’s how that noise is made that worries police agencies throughout the region.

Police warn that guns used as noisemakers can be harmful and deadly.

People being injured and even killed by bullets falling out of the sky is not just an urban legend, it happens. That’s why Stockton police along with other jurisdictions will be on alert for New Year's Eve.

“Celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous it’s illegal. If anyone is caught firing off a weapon in public, they will be arrested,” Rosie Calderon from Stockton Police Community Services told FOX40.

Three years ago, a bullet falling from the sky hit a Stockton police car then ricocheted into the leg of an officer. It did not result in serious injuries but similar close calls had some residents on alert.

“Someone actually shot up in the air and the bullet hit an infant, I think,” Stockton resident Edwin Glaser said. “And that’s one of the things that got me thinking, 'Oh, hey, don’t go out on New Year’s Eve.'"

Stockton officers will be on standby in key neighborhoods, but this time they will be without their ShotSpotter system.

Sacramento police will also be on alert Tuesday night monitoring their ShotSpotter system, which can precisely pinpoint gunfire and help dispatching officers find the scene.

“We focus on those areas that had a lot of calls regarding shots fired last year, so we’ll spread around in those areas and of course be available to go to other areas as needed,” Calderon said.

Both Sacramento and Stockton police departments said they want citizens to report gunfire because they might also be signs of a crime being committed, not just noise making.

“I’m probably going to stay inside and probably just be with my boyfriend and just stay safe,” Stockton resident Katie Atkinson said. “In my old neighborhood, a bullet hit a roof of my house and that actually scared our house.”

Officers will be on standby throughout the first 12 hours of New Year's Day because people are known to celebrate until the early morning hours.

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