New Year’s celebratory gunfire is dangerous, Dayton police say

Police placed evidence markers where spent shell casings were found along the west side of North Main Street at West Shadyside Drive, Dayton Monday May 9, 2016. (Marshall Gorby/Staff)

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Police placed evidence markers where spent shell casings were found along the west side of North Main Street at West Shadyside Drive, Dayton Monday May 9, 2016. (Marshall Gorby/Staff)

Dayton police responded to more reports of gunfire last New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and officials are stressing that celebratory gunfire is a dangerous activity that can cause serious harm.

“Randomly shooting a gun in the air or across a roadway can result in serious injury or death and property damage,” said Dayton police Lt. Col. Eric Henderson.

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Dayton police were dispatched to 58 gunshot calls on Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2020, which was a 61% increase from the prior New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, according to police data.

About 19 of the incidents were reported by the police department’s controversial ShotSpotter system, which is a network of acoustic sensors that listen for gunshots and try to pinpoint their location.

The ShotSpotter system detected more than 150 separate incidents of gunfire on the New Year’s holiday, between 10 p.m. Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1, Dayton police Major Christopher Malson, who is in charge of the West Patrol Operations division, said in early 2020.

And the system only covers a roughly three-mile area of the city around North Main Street corridor and Salem Avenue. Dayton is more than 56 square miles, and residents elsewhere in the city have complained about people shooting guns in the air during the holiday.

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In the past, law enforcement officials have said that discharging a weapon in the city can lead to a variety of criminal charges.

They also insist that celebratory gunfire is not a harmless act. About five years ago, a 52-year-old woman was hit by a stray bullet that was shot in the air in Dayton.

She survived but others hit by celebratory gunfire were not so fortunate.

A year ago, Allen County Sheriff Matthew Treglia was hit by a bullet fired as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to USA Today. Allen County is about 80 miles north of Dayton. The sheriff wasn’t hurt, but he could have been if the bullet hadn’t ricocheted off a police cruiser first, the news outlet reported.

Celebratory gunfire and illegal fireworks are common problems during the Fourth of July and New Year’s holidays.

Illegal fireworks were a major source of concern in Dayton in 2020, with fireworks complaints and calls increasing more than 1,000%, police officials said.

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Some residents and officials said the coronavirus lockdown and limited leisure and entertainment activities likely contributed to explosive growth in people setting off fireworks.

Some local residents have complained on Facebook and social media that celebratory gunshots and illegal fireworks are stressful to themselves or their loved ones or pets.

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