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Richmond residents describe sound of illegal celebratory gunfire like ‘being in a war zone’

RICHMOND, Va. – “It was like being in a war zone something like that near constant gunfire,” said Alexander Fraley.

That’s how Alexander Fraley described what it sounded like outside his Richmond home Monday night and he wasn’t alone. Hundreds of people took to social media concerned about celebratory gunfire New Year’s Eve.

“It’s like Beirut or Afghanistan, it’s continuous gunfire for 45 to an hour at least,” said Army veteran and Richmond resident Sam Sanders.
“All different types of weapons being fired. The only thing you could do to be safe is get low in your house and pray no bullets come through your window.”

Sam Sanders has lived in Richmond since 2007. He said last night’s gunfire was the worst he’s experienced on New Year’s Eve since moving to the city.

“It was worse because last night it was a barrage of different type of weaponry and fire,” said Sanders.

“We just stayed inside kinda of like we’re not going to risk it,“ said, Fraley.
“If there’s that many guns going off odds are the bullet is going to land somewhere and could really hurt someone.”

“The bullet has got to hit something,” said Sanders. “Hopefully, it’s not someone or someone’s kids.”

As was the tragic case July 4, 2013 in Chesterfield, when celebratory gunfire killed seven year old Brendon Mackey while walking with his family to the fireworks show at Brandermill’s Sunday Park.

In 2014, Brendon’s Law was enacted, making it illegal to fire a gunshot into the air. If a shot fired into the air, including celebratory gunfire, injures someone, the shooter could face felony charges.

“Having it be a felony is certainly a good thing anything you can do to deter it,” said Fraley.

“We have a motto in our household, we do not leave the house after 6 o’clock on New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July because you just can’t take the risk of not returning home stray bullets,” said Sanders.

“Stop it, put down the guns,” said Sanders. “Take it to the range where it belongs.”

Chesterfield and Richmond Police Departments warned residents to avoid celebratory gunfire as they rang in the New Year.

Firing a gun in the city limits is illegal and dangerous, said a Richmond Police spokesperson.

The Richmond Department of Emergency Communications says they received more than 180 reports of gunfire on New Year’s Eve 2017. Totals for this year have not yet been released.

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