Woman sitting on yacht club patio hit by possible celebratory bullet

St. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A woman was hit by an apparent stray bullet while sitting on a patio at a yacht club just after midnight New Year's Day.

St. Petersburg Police spokesperson Mike Puetz said Tuesday morning that Laurie Eileen Eberhardt, 67, of St. Petersburg, was leaning on a 2nd-floor balcony railing at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club when she felt something strike her right wrist and noticed she was bleeding.

Puetz said the shooting investigator believed the bullet that hit Eberhardt as she watched fireworks was a "large-caliber rifle round" and the shooting is being investigated as a New Year's celebratory shooting.

The woman was taken to Bayfront Medical Center where "[emergency room] staff removed the bullet ... near the base of her pinky finger," Puetz said. She did not sustain serious injuries and was released from the hospital.

"No one present at the yacht club reported seeing anyone with a gun or hearing any gunshots at the time of the shooting," Puetz said. "It does appear, based on the victim's account, that the bullet was falling downward from the sky and investigators believe that her injuries are the consequence of celebratory gunfire from a weapon fired some distance away."

No suspects have been identified and a location from which the gun might have been fired has not yet been determined, Puetz added.

The incident is similar to the case of Diego Duran , who was shot in the head by a stray New Year's bullet one year ago Tuesday. He spent seven months in the hospital fighting for his life, but has since recovered.

He and his family began the "Bullet Free Sky Campaign" to sound the alarm about celebratory gunfire, in hopes of turning their scary experiences into positive change for the Tampa Bay community.


 
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