Durham trying to put cap in celebratory gunfire


The message is direct; "Have fun, but don't shoot a gun" - a reference to the idea of celebrating by firing shots into the air.

What goes up must come down and those bullets, authorities say, could hurt or kill someone.

"It's extremely foolish, and I would use the word stupid, to discharge a firearm, because that bullet is going to go somewhere and odds are, it's going to hit someone and hurt someone," Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said.

"It makes it hard for people to be safe," student Trevor Hasty said. "Now you got to be careful where you walk and stuff, and you're not supposed to feel that way! You're supposed to feel safe in your neighborhood."

However, some wonder if the high profile campaign put on by police along with the city of Durham and Durham Public Schools will really help reduce or prevent celebratory gunfire.

"People going to do what they want to do," Durham resident Sandra Williams said. "But it's always good .. to raise awareness. So some will take it, some won't."

Williams said she believes beefed up police patrols can do more to keep random shooters off the street.

"I stay on Linwood, and that used to be a real bad area until the police got that under control," she said.

Still, there is belief in a community-based remedy.

"I feel like we just need to come together and try to stop it," Hasty said.

"This community has had a lot of instances of crime that we are trying to push back, and I think it'll work," Chief Lopez said. "It'll work for a lot of people coming through here who will see it and realize that the campaign's going on."

On Monday, the three fifth graders who created the artwork and message for the billboard were recognized by the City.

Chief Lopez said he liked the way they suggested celebratory gunfire was dangerous.

"It is your generation that's going to take this message forward, and get everybody in this community, especially older folks like us, to be aware of how important this is," he said.

And for the kids, working on the campaign was a highlight for the kid.

"It made me excited, because my work was up there," student artist Estafany Valenzula said.

"I think I'm really good at telling what people look like and drawing pictures, so I think I can draw pictures, too," student artist Talijah Vann said.

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