RICHMOND, Va. -- After a flood of random gunfire calls, every Richmond Police officer working New Year’s Eve set out to find illegal weapons.
They had some success. 10 people were arrested and charged and a dozen firearms were confiscated.
What you could hear that night was not a construction site, nor was it the sound of a hammer. It was what police agencies call "celebratory gunfire" and there were injuries because of it.
"I realize that shooting your weapons in the air has been a Richmond tradition for years,” said Maj. Ronald Armistead. “I can go back when my grandfather was around and it was happening, but people gotta realize, what you shoot up, will come down."
For the first five hours of 2022, RPD chased the calls for service. Out of six victims on early New Year’s Day morning, police believe at least three were from celebratory gunfire.
One confirmed case was on Cedar Street where a woman was shot in the chest by a falling round.
"When it comes down,” Armistead said. “It's almost the same as if you were to point the weapon directly. It’ll penetrate the skin and you can die."
The random gunfire calls triggered police to launch Operation Red Ball on New Year's
"We saw it on social media sites,” said Armistead. “People were posting up that they were shooting guns in the air. They went to these different spots and so we managed to see 12 weapons and arrest 10 people."
The charges included misdemeanors and felonies. Guns with high capacity magazines were among those confiscated.
After a surge in shootings and homicides in 2021, police promise this is just the beginning of what they call taking back the streets in 2022.
"We will do what we have to do to keep this Richmond community safe,” Armistead said. “Going after violent people committing violent crimes, we are going to do it."
The Richmond Police Department is also asking the community to research their gun 250 program. If you tell police where to find illegal guns and it's fruitful, you can earn a cash reward from $250 dollars up to $1,000.