Police: Don't celebrate holiday with gunfire

Brendon Mackey was killed by celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2013. (Source: Bryan Mackey)
Brendon Mackey was killed by celebratory gunfire on July 4, 2013. (Source: Bryan Mackey)
Published: Jul. 4, 2016 at 2:14 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2016 at 11:14 AM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A terrifying tradition has officers across the Commonwealth on high alert: celebratory gunfire.

"What goes up must come down, it is very simple. Firing a gun into the air for a celebratory reason is illegal, it's foolish, and it is deadly," said Maj. Kevin Smith with the Chesterfield Police Department.

For many neighbors living in his county, they are no longer able to celebrate the Fourth of July without a tragedy haunting the community: a child who should be celebrating his 10th birthday this year never made it past the age of 7.

"Three years ago on July 4th, a little 7-year-old boy, Brendon Mackey, was walking to a fireworks show with his father and out of nowhere a bullet fell from the sky, struck him, and killed him," said Smith.

ShotSpotter, a resource for law enforcement across the country, points out on its website that bullets fired into the air at angles less than vertical are more dangerous because the bullet maintains its direction and speed. The organization cites former studies that show a bullet can fall up to 300 feet per second.

It then uses data to prove the chance of the wound being fatal is far higher than a typical shooting.

"There is always the fear it could happen again," warned Smith.

To combat that fear, laws named after Brendon are now in place making the act of celebratory gunfire a felony.

Chesterfield police continue to track the gunfire to find the source, but are also working to keep the trigger from being pulled in the first place by bringing in extra manpower for the holiday.

"Brendon was just walking to a firework show with his father. That could have been your child. Your neighbor. One of your loved ones. How would you feel?" asked Smith.

His killer still walks free.

"You know who you are, do what's right, turn yourself in and do what is right by this family," urged Smith.

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