ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Rhonda Davis

Despite warnings from law enforcement officials across the country, some New Year's revelers still fired their guns in the air, leading to at least one death in Texas and an arrest in Chattanooga.

Authorities say reports of celebratory gunfire increase around the holidays, especially New Year's and July 4. Drinking compounds the problem.

A 2004 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people struck by bullets shot into the air are most likely to be hit in the head, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Such incidents can prove deadly.

In Texas, 61-year-old Philippa Ashford died after being shot at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. The Harris County Sheriff's Department said it appears she was struck by celebratory gunfire from outside her immediate neighborhood.

And in 2010, a 4-year-old boy in Decatur, Georgia, died when an AK-47 round penetrated a church roof and struck him in the head as he sat next to his parents during a New Year's Eve service, the AJC reported.

(Read more: Police, victims warn against firing guns on New Year's Eve)

Here in Chattanooga, 34-year-old Rhonda Davis was charged Wednesday after she fired a gun from the balcony of a home on Runyan Drive, according to police.

Responding to a call of a disorder, Chattanooga police arrived at the scene and spoke to a man who said he was sleeping when he was awakened by gunshots coming from his neighbor's balcony.

When he confronted the neighbor, they got into an argument, according to an affidavit.

Police canvassed the area and located 17 shell casings near the balcony of the neighbor.

Davis admitted to police that she was the one who had been shooting. Later, police located two handguns, one of which had the serial number filed off.

No one was injured but she was charged with reckless endangerment, alteration of the serial number of a firearm and possessing a gun while under the influence.

She was taken into custody and transported to the Hamilton County Jail. A booking photo shows Davis with a bandaged face, but it's unclear what happened or if it stemmed from that night.

Chattanooga police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal said those types of calls are listed only as "shots fired," so it's difficult to pinpoint how many reports are for actual gunshots and not just callers confused by fireworks.

This year, the first shots-fired call came just 32 seconds after midnight, according to the Hamilton County 911 website. Thirteen more followed within the first 15 minutes.

On Jan. 1, 2018, a Chattanooga man was charged with felony reckless endangerment after police say he fired a gun from a balcony at a home in the 3800 block on Nandena Drive.

Myzal emphasized that celebratory gunfire is illegal, citing the deadly consequences.

"It is important to remember that 'what goes up must come down,'" she said. "Firing pieces of lead, which can kill people, randomly into the air is not only irresponsible, it is stupid."

The Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this story.

Contact Meg Scarbrough at mscarbrough@timesfreepress.com.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT