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Valley Law Enforcement Prepares for New Year’s Celebratory Gunfire

4 years 9 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, December 28 2016 Dec 28, 2016 December 28, 2016 5:45 PM December 28, 2016 in News

EDINBURG - Rio Grande Valley law enforcement hope this year’s celebratory gunfire doesn’t cause any fatalities. They said it’s a problem growing across the Valley every New Year’s Eve.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office said they’re preparing for their busiest night of the year. The celebrations mean consumers will be drinking alcohol and possibly shooting guns.

Christian Salazar said one of his neighbors was firing a gun in the air in Christmas Eve.  He said it’s all too common this time of year in his neighborhood.  

“I usually tell my friends not to shoot up in the air. That’s why we have shooting ranges,” he said.

Authorities said there’s a possibility a stray bullet can injure someone.  Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. JP Rodriguez said every year, 911 is flooded with calls of rapid gunfire.

“A lot of these New Year’s eve parties, people are consuming alcohol which makes things even more dangerous,” he said.

Rodriguez said the calls also continue to come in the day after.

“Because somebody wakes up and finds a bullet hole in their home and on their roof. They may find a bullet in their kitchen sink or the bullet penetrated their vehicle,” he explained.

Law enforcement said firing a weapon on your property isn’t against the law as long as it’s done responsibly. However, firing a weapon in the air is a reckless decision.

“If a firearm is being discharged in a reckless manner, there is a potential for criminal charges,” Rodriguez said.

Salazar said he doesn’t expect his neighbor to take his advice and leave the weapon while celebrating. He said he’ll take precautions when he hears shots and will take his children indoors.

The sheriff’s office said people shouldn’t be afraid to call them if they hear celebratory gunfire in their area.

Authorities said there could be legal consequences if someone is found shooting a gun in the air.

According to Texas Penal Code, a person commits disorderly conduct when they discharge a firearm in a public place other than a shooting range, or on or across a public road. They said it can be considered a Class C or B misdemeanor.

A person also commits deadly conduct when they fire a gun in the direction of people, homes, building or vehicles. Authorities said it can be a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. 

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