CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Last year, Chesterfield resident Al Winkler said he would have most likely disregarded any gunfire noise on New Year’s Eve.
“You hear the pops every once in awhile and you don’t think nothing of it,” said Winkler.
However, with the death of Brendon Mackey fresh on his mind, Winkler chose to call police this year after hearing what may have been gunfire outside his home New Year’s Eve.
The seven year old was killed by celebratory gunfire on July 4th last year while walking to see fireworks with his dad. The person who fired that weapon has still not been found.
“It’s a tragedy and I don’t even want to think about what would happen if that were one of my children,” said Winkler.
According to police reports, Winkler isn’t alone in calling police. On New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day Chesterfield County Police received 17 calls regarding gunfire between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Last year and the year before police received just four calls.
“I think it’s people being more proactive, at least that’s what I hope it is. Everyone kind of looking out for each other and taking care of each other,” said Winkler.
CBS 6 took a closer look at those calls and found that four of them ended up being fireworks, one had been a duplicate and one other was cancelled. However, 10 of those calls are shown as “shooting reported.”
Chesterfield County Police said the department believes the number of calls reporting gunfire was higher this year because of increased awareness in the wake of the death of Brendon Mackey.
While Chesterfield’s calls increased this year, Richmond’s calls are down 20 percent compared to last year.
Police in the city received 60 calls between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. where as last year the department responded to 77 calls during that same time frame.
“We attribute that to social media, educating the public of the dangers of this type of crime,” said Lt. Daniel Minton with the Richmond Police Department.
Many people CBS 6 talked to said they are happy to see numbers dropping in Richmond as well as awareness increasing in Chesterfield County, as one tragedy is just one too many.