Durham Police Department warns of celebratory gunfire on July 4 a year after grandmother killed

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary after a 74-year-old grandmother was killed by celebratory gunfire while visiting a friend in Durham, that's why local authorities are warning of the devastating consequences of celebratory gunfire.

Last year, Paulette Thorpe was hit by a stray bullet while sitting on a porch around 11 p.m. -- just weeks before her 75th birthday. One year later, and Durham police still have not made an official arrest in Thorpe's death.

In an unfortunate tale of caution, the Durham Police Department released a PSA warning how what one may believe is a small action may have a big impact on another family.

'She was loved by everyone': Family remembers grandmother killed by celebratory July 4 gunfire weeks before 75th birthday
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Durham police officers say there is no update in the search for the person who shot and killed Paulette Thorpe.



"The Thorpe family worked closely with our department to produce the PSA," says Lt. G.L. Minor of the Public Affairs Unit. "The goal was to create a compelling promotion that would honor Mrs. Thorpe's life and cause community members to stop and think about the possible consequences of their actions."

The PSA, released in both English and Spanish, recounts Thorpe's effect on the community and how it was stripped away with no one to pay the price.

"Celebratory gunfire is not fun and games, it's a violent crime that kills.. don't do it," the video says.



Not only is the Durham Police Department warning of celebratory gunfire, they are also providing other tips to celebrate the holiday safely:

  • Follow Motor Vehicle Laws. Do NOT drink and drive. If you do drink, use a designated driver, call a cab, use a rideshare option, phone a friend or walk. Always watch out for pedestrians and observe the speed limit.
  • Know How Fireworks Work. If you purchase consumer fireworks for personal entertainment, be sure that the fireworks are legal. Without exception, always read fireworks instructions carefully. Fireworks that explode are illegal in North Carolina.
  • According to a Durham noise ordinance, from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., the sound level should not be louder than 50 decibels. Experts say that compares to a quiet conversation at home.
  • The sound of fireworks often frightens pets. Don't leave pets leashed, fenced or chained up outside during fireworks displays. They may become disoriented, escape and get lost.
  • Follow City's Latest COVID-19 Guidelines. Learn about the most recent guidelines residents are asked to follow to stem the resurgence of COVID-19 in the community. Visit the City's COVID-19 Resource Page
  • In Case of Emergency Call 911. Residents are reminded to always call 911 in these instances: sounds of gunshots; fire emergency; immediate or potential threat to life or property; medical emergency; other actual or perceived emergencies; suspicious persons, vehicles or activity; any type of fight or disturbance; vehicle accident; and/or when a child or pet is locked in a vehicle.
  • Residents should use Durham's non-emergency number (919) 560-4600. Durham's non-emergency number frees up 911 lines for non-life-threatening emergencies. Examples include barking dogs, loud music, burglaries that occurred hours or days earlier (not in progress) and vandalism to public or private property.
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