Senator eyes tougher penalties for celebratory gunfire - - Richmond, VA News

Senator eyes tougher penalties for celebratory gunfire

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There are new details into the search for whoever killed 7-year-old Brendon Mackey during celebratory gunfire on the Fourth of July.

Tuesday, police said they have tested several guns to see if there is any connection, and they are awaiting those results. Now, a Virginia lawmaker wants to step up penalties for people who shoot into the air.

Senator Henry Marsh attended the funeral of little Brendon Mackey. He says it was right then that he decided he wanted to take action.

"Celebratory gunfire is a universal problem," Marsh said.

Though four months have passed since someone shot and killed Brendon during Fourth of July festivities in Brandermill, a new effort to try to prevent this from happening again is just getting started.

"On holidays, people shoot up in the air regularly, and it's more chance of someone getting hurt, injured, or killed when those bullets come down," Senator Marsh added.

So he is preparing new legislation - increasing penalties for celebratory gunfire that injures or kills a person - even if the shooter is shooting from their private property.

"We're studying all ranges of punishments," he said.

Marsh says right now in Virginia, investigators must prove someone who hurt another person with celebratory gunfire intended to do so. What he's calling "Brendon's Law" would remove that requirement. He's expecting huge support from lawmakers, because he says this is an issue that extends beyond the politics.

"I think this is something that we should get Democrats and Republicans, because the bullet doesn't have any party affiliation. It could hurt anyone. This is a human problem," Marsh said.

A reward for information that leads to a conviction in Mack's death is now at nearly $4,000. Anyone with more information can contact Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

Senator Marsh plans to formally file this bill next week. The General Assembly will reconvene in January.

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