HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – The sound of gunfire rang out in some parts of Central Virginia early Friday morning as people celebrated the start of 2016.
While no one may have been specifically targeted, some of those stray bullets found their mark on cars and houses.
There were no reports of injuries, but that does not mean there were not close calls.
Charles Hester said heard several rounds of celebratory gunfire coming from a neighborhood near his home on Scotch Pine Road in eastern Henrico.
“It didn’t sound like it was in this neighborhood. It sounded like his was a good ways away,” Hester said. “I almost didn’t go out because I understand the physics of bullets going up and coming back down.”
However, what Hester did not know was that a stray bullet hit a car sitting in his neighbor’s driveway just down the block.
Police said it looks like the round that hit the car came straight down out of the sky.
“I was thinking about the little boy, I think it was Brandermill that got hit,” Hester said.
Celebratory gunfire reports remind many in Central Virginia of Brendon Mackey, the six-year-old boy hit and killed by a stray bullet while at a fireworks show on July 4, 2013.
Police still have not idea where that fatal shot originated.
Since his death, Virginia has stiffened the penalties for celebratory gunfire in hopes of limiting it in the future.
A check of Henrico County Police records from Dec. 31 from 11 p.m. to Jan. 1 at 1 a.m. show 45 calls for either weapons violations or shootings.
However, many of those calls went without a report or the officer was unable to locate the situation.
Henrico police post their calls for service online. We have not yet been able to check on other jurisdictions since that data was not readily available.
Hester said he understands it can be hard for police to track down exactly who pulled the trigger if they do not know where a shot originated.
That is why Hester is calling on those with the guns to make a change.
“I’m hopeful that folks kind of took heed to that in terms of not shooting in the air,” he said. “I think you can celebrate in other ways.”
A local police source told WTVR CBS 6 it seems like the calls for celebratory gunfire decreased this year overall. The source credits Brendon’s law for the reduction.