Miami-Dade Police Director Jim Loftus made the simplest argument possible against firing guns in the air to celebrate New Year's Eve: "Because what goes up, must come down."
Loftus' comments about dangerous falling bullets came up before a crowd at Juan Pablo Duarte Park in Allapattah Thursday morning, during a "One Bullet Kills the Party" news conference.
Miami-Dade County and city officials were joined by clergy, and activists, calling on the public to practice common sense Friday and put down their arms.
On Friday, the Rev. Jerome Starling, a pastor at Jordan Grove Missionary Baptist Church, will hold another event bring home the same message. His group, the Rickia Isaac Foundation is having its 13th annual "No More Stray Bullets" push in Miami.
The group is named after Starling's niece, who was 5 years old when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet in 1997, while walking home from a parade.
"It's enough that we have people dying from being intentionally shot," Starling said. "To have people dying as accidental gunshot victims is almost more tragic."
Over the past several years in South Florida several people have been seriously wounded or killed by falling bullets on New Year's Eve.
Last December, 6-year-old Andrea Fregoneses, whose family was visiting Miami from Italy, was struck and seriously wounded by a falling bullet on New Year's Eve 2009.
Fregoneses' family was dining at the upscale Design District restaurant Mai Tardi, when he ran to his parents and said he had a stomach ache.
When his parents lifted the boy's shirt, they saw that he'd been shot in the stomach.
"He's doing great now," Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said Thursday. "I mean he's up and around, back in school, happy, playing. But you know it was bad for him for a while.
He spent quite a long time in the hospital at Jackson. And no person, no child should have to deal with that ever, but especially not during a time of celebration."
Regalado, who has reached out to and kept in touch with Fregoneses' family, said they planned to visit Miami again.
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