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ShotSpotter to help Tampa Police pinpoint celebratory gunfire on Fourth of July

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 19:41:44-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Bay area law enforcement officers are once again urging the public not to take part in celebratory gunfire this Fourth of July.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police Department both released videos this week warning against shooting into the air to celebrate the holiday.

Bullets can travel up to five miles and fall at speeds of up to 300 feet per second, according to a newly-released video by TPD.

Vonshay Cunningham feels lucky to be alive after celebratory gunfire hit her car windshield last year.

"So it could have hit me in the chest," said Cunningham. "I'm just blessed and lucky that I wasn't in the car at the time."

People often mistake the innocent pop of fireworks for gunfire.

Tampa Police tells ABC Action News officers responded to 20 calls for "shots heard" during the Fourth of July last year. That's almost double from the year before.

This year, TPD is utilizing ShotSpotter, technology that detects the sound of gunfire and pinpoints the location for officers.

"ShotSpotter will supplement and also allow us to respond to gunfire even when we don't get a call from the public," said TPD spokesperson Eddy Durkin. "When the alert comes from ShotSpotter, we know that a gun has been fired, and narrow it down to a very specific area."

Cunningham says the only pops and cracks she wants to hear this holiday are colorful and eye-catching.

"The bullets go up but they must come down," said Cunningham. "They are going to hit somebody eventually."