Terrifying Tradition: gunfire rings in New Year

Published: Jan. 1, 2016 at 10:10 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2016 at 11:23 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Celebratory gunfire is a terrifying tradition that has many people in areas like Church Hill feeling like they live in a warzone.

An audio recording sent to Church Hill People's News captured the chaos ringing in the New Year in Church Hill:

http://chpn.net/news/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Happy-2016.wav

"We heard gunfire for about 20 minutes off and on. Some close by, some in the distance," pointed out Stacey Werr who lives near the area the audio file was recorded.

Not knowing where the shots come from make it more difficult for police to crack down on the celebratory crime.

"You could hear the echoes off the buildings and couldn't tell how close they were," recalled Wanda Cooper, also a Church Hill resident. She was leaving a late-night service at church when she heard the shots getting closer to her home.

Officers are tasked with sorting through that confusion, not knowing if the noise comes from a firework or firearm. However, they have to respond to each call as if an active shooter were in the area.

"I heard banging and shots, I was looking for light, looking for fireworks," explained Diego Williams who awoke to the gunfire.

Williams, like many other neighbors, did not see light in the sky following the explosion, leading them to believe the noise came from a gun and not a firework display.

The Richmond Police Department pointed the extra calls are taxing on resources on an already busy night. The Chesterfield Police Department agreed, adding that there were more than 40 calls between midnight and 4 a.m. Most of those were determined to be fireworks.

In Henrico, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., police received more than 80 shots fired calls and 40 loud party calls, which is how dispatch typically logs calls for fireworks.

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