Celebratory gunfire spoils 4th for wounded man

St. Petersburg, Florida -- The St. Petersburg Police Department is using a public service announcement to remind residents to celebrate the Fourth of July safely, and keep firearms out of the holiday.

"Pinellas County is very crowded, a lot of people out on the 4th, so the chance of hurting someone goes up exponentially," said a department spokesperson.

Two years ago, a couple sat in a park at Safety Harbor, looked up for the fireworks finale. That's when the 4th of July, and a lot of other things, changed forever. Booms and bangs filled the sky over Safety Harbor. So did gunfire.

"Something fell out of the sky," Billie Bizzell said.

It was a bullet from celebratory gunfire that could have come from miles away.

"It makes me not want to go out to fireworks anymore," Bizzell said.

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A bullet hit her husband. "The bullet hit his medallion, which saved his life," she said.

Richard Smeraldo, who is mostly recovered with only scars, said he is lucky to be alive. "If I had my head this way it would've gone through my skull - different scenario," he said.

Police say although it's difficult to track the bullets, firing weapons in the air is illegal and can kill someone.

And what are Bizzell's plans for this holiday?

"I'm staying home. (It's just too much..?) Right."

Police will be on patrol looking for violators.

Previous celebratory gunfire stories:


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