CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — As New Year's Eve approaches, the Chesterfield County Police Department is reminding residents of the dangers of celebratory gunfire, and urging citizens to refrain from it.
What goes up will come down, police say, and the consequences could be tragic.
The story of seven-year-old Brendon Mackey’s tragic holiday death was the most viewed story on WTVR.com this year.
On July 4th a large crowd had gathered over by the Swift Creek Reservoir, in the Brandermill area, to watch fireworks. As Brendon walked through the Boathouse parking lot with his dad, he collapsed. His father saw blood and thought he may have hit his head.
At the hospital doctors made the startling discovery of a wound from a .40 caliber bullet in the top of Brendon’s head. To this day, the person who shot off the celebratory gunfire has not come forward, nor been found.
Police believe the round that struck Brendon was fired randomly into the air, likely from a distance. His death marked the first time in Metro Richmond that someone was killed as a result of unintentional celebratory gunfire.
Brendon’s mother, Marie Harris, who is enduring the pain of celebrating the holidays this year without her son, is making a passionate plea to the public this New Year’s Eve.
“I know it’s another time of year where people like to shoot off guns,” Harris said. “I’m hoping, of course, that this never happens again to anyone. You never think it’s going to be your family and your child.”
While celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve is well known in some areas, like Churchill, where it’s been famously dubbed the “Churchill Fireworks,” Chesterfield Police Captain Kevin Smith says it’s a growing problem in Chesterfield County as well.
“Celebratory gunfire kills and we know that,” Smith says. “Brendon Mackey’s face should tell you that.”
While Smith says the department has increased New Year’s Eve patrols over the years, this year police will be out in even greater numbers looking for celebratory gunfire offenders, especially in dense areas, like apartment complexes, where families live close together.
“We’re going to arrest you,” Smith says. “There’s not going to be a warning and we’re going to seek jail time through the courts and you’re going to be ashamed because we’re going to put your name out there if you’re an adult.”
Virginia State Senator Henry Marsh also plans to introduce legislation this General Assembly session called “Brendon’s Law.” The law will make celebratory gunfire a more specific crime and add to the penalties associated with the offense.
Currently, shooting a gun into the air is a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine. Police encourage residents to report any reckless use of firearms immediately.
Police continue to seek information related to Brendon Mackey's death.
Anyone with information should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or http://www.crimesolvers.net.