Police warn against illegal fireworks and celebratory gun fire

Police expected to be busy on July 4th

ROANOKE – The Fourth of July is one of the busier holidays of the year for police. There are extra Roanoke City officers on duty Wednesday because on average dispatchers get about 200 calls to investigate. Many are for fireworks or gunshots, typically around the time celebrations are beginning.

Sgt. David Lovell, with the Roanoke City Police Department said they usually get more than 50 calls in the city alone about fireworks or gunfire.

Calls range from neighborhood noise complaints to injuries from fireworks.

"Fourth of July can be busy. Common calls are injuries, burns or that type of thing our EMS guys respond to,” Lovell said.

Injuries can be especially common from projectile fireworks that are illegal in the Commonwealth.
In the state of Virginia, only sparklers are allowed for private use.

"We discourage the type of fireworks that shoot up in the air, it's against the law to shoot those,” Lovell said.

Celebratory gunfire is another concern. It's against the law and has proven to be deadly in the Commonwealth. And although it's not common, the consequences of only one shot can be devastating.

Officers in Chesterfield are still investigating the death of 7-year-old Brendon Mackey who was killed five years ago at a July 4th fireworks show by a bullet that was fired randomly into the air.

"When a projectile goes up, it must come down and wherever you shoot toward you don't want someone to get or their family members to get hurt on a holiday," Lovell said.

Although most shots fired calls on the Fourth of July are mistaken for fireworks, Lovell said don't hesitate to contact police if you think you've heard a gun.

“There is a way to have fun, but we want you to be careful out there,” Lovell said.

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