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Phoenix police warn against celebratory New Year’s Eve gunfire

PHOENIX — With New Year’s Eve celebrations coming up, Phoenix police are outside various stores Thursday passing out flyers to remind people about Shannon’s Law.

The law makes it a felony to fire a gun into the air to celebrate.

“It all stemmed from 1999, when Shannon Smith was killed in her backyard (in Phoenix) from random gunfire,” said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

Thompson said Smith wasn’t the only person in Phoenix to die that way. The Phoenix sergeant is about to have his 31st New Year’s Eve as a police officer. The first time he remembers someone being killed by random gunfire on the year-end holiday was in 1983.

“I was on another call, but one of my partners was on a call where a grandfather was in bed with a bunch of his grandbabies. I think he had been left with the assignment to attend to the kids,” Thompson said. “Someone — it was a woman — stepped outside of her apartment and started shooting her gun to celebrate. The bullet went through the apartment window and killed grandpa.”

Phoenix police Assistant Chief Harry Markley warns that if you’re caught firing a gun to celebrate New Year’s, there will be consequences.

“If we do find you, we’re going to take you to jail,” Markley said. “We’re not going to write you a ticket. We’re not going to warn you. You’re going to go to jail for that.”

Phoenix residents are apparently getting the message not to shoot. Thompson said that such calls on New Year’s Eve have dropped 83 percent in Phoenix in the 11 years that Shannon’s Law has been in effect.

The department and advocates are scheduled Friday to pass out flyers in Phoenix
neighborhoods warning residents about random gunfire.

Officers from the Estrella Mountain Precinct were slated to pass out
educational material.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.