St. Petersburg, Florida -- A cannon sits outside the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, but on New Year's Eve it was a different kind of gun that caused problems there.

Like thousands of people around the Bay area, Laurie Eberhardt was watching fireworks. She was on the balcony at the yacht club with her husband Henry and some friends, when shortly after midnight a bullet struck her hand.

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"It's excruciating, almost like fire going into your arm and my wrist. I've never felt anything so painful and so scary," says Eberhardt, 67, who lives on Beach Drive.

Police say the large caliber bullet most likely came from a rife that someone fired into the air to celebrate New Year's.

"Again, people think of it as harmless, because they're point up in the air," says police spokesman Mike Puetz. "But it's been shown time and time again; this is just one of those things that can have very, very, negative results."

Beth and George Pennington were on their boat, docked at the yacht club -- also watching the fireworks -- when they noticed the commotion of police lights and an ambulance.

"They wheeled her right across in front of us and I thought, 'Oh my God, somebody really did get hurt," says Beth.

But it wasn't until today that the couple learned that a dangerous bullet had dropped from the sky so nearby.

"Scary. It could have been us; could have been anybody," said George.

"It makes you wonder why people do those things. It's not good for anybody," said Beth.

Eberhardt, a former Kindergarten teacher, also doesn't understand why people don't think before they pull the trigger.

The bullet traveled across her hand, over her wrist and several inches up her arm. Doctors say the area will eventually heal, but it may take longer for her emotions to recover.

"This was extremely frightening," she says. "It was horrifying."

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