Don't celebrate Independence Day by shooting guns, Durham police warn

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, July 4, 2022
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It is dangerous and against the law to celebrate by pointing a gun to the sky and opening fire.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ahead of the evening fireworks across the Triangle, Durham officials are reminding and urging residents to not celebrate Independence Day by firing off weapons.

"Anyone caught firing a gun into the air could be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500," Durham Police Department said in a recent announcement about July 4th safety. "The act of pointing a gun towards the sky and firing shots into the air to commemorate an event or holiday is unsafe and against the law."

The notice comes two years after a 74-year-old Durham woman was killed by celebratory gunfire. Paulette Thorpe lost her life because someone decided to fire their gun into the air to ring in Independence Day.

"You don't want to be on the other end of getting that call that one of your relatives got injured or killed because a bullet struck them and they were innocent bystanders," said Thorpe's nephew, Carlos Lyons. "Be mindful of what you're doing when you celebrate."

Durham officials offered some tips for a safe and fun holiday.

  • Celebrate safely
  • Be aware
  • Park smart
  • Prevent crime
  • Celebrate responsibly

As the city works to curb gun violence, the ShotSpotter CEO recently met with Durham leaders to discuss ways the gun detection technology to curb violence.

"You won't know until you try," Lyons said. "When you're on this end of it, you want anything possible. Any kind of resource you can get. I'm all for it. If it works it works. If it doesn't, at least we tried."

In the meantime, officers ask residents to be aware of their surroundings and to call 911 to report anything suspicious.