YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When a gun is fired, the bullet will hit something — a simple fact. But, Captain Jason Simon with the Youngstown Police Department says that simple fact is often forgotten.
“Those bullets have to go somewhere, they will go somewhere, even when you’re shooting up in the air. You know, you can’t change the laws of physics, those bullets are going to travel,” he said.
Stray bullets flying into the air is an issue that YPD has been faced with tackling and a danger that residents often worry about.
“What we run into almost exclusively when we have these kinds of shootings or homicides, is that the suspects have no consideration whatsoever, obviously, for any kind of life, but especially for individuals that they’re not intending to target,” he said.
In a video from June that Youngstown police released, you can see a suspect firing a gun toward a man at a park. Several of the bullets that were fired are seen hitting the ground.
But, it’s in a second video from another angle where you can see that just feet away, right behind that man, was a pavilion full of people and children.
“By the grace of God, none of those children were hurt. Unfortunately, we do have a victim, you know, from that case, and we have one arrest in it. But, you know, nonetheless, that kind of puts in perspective the dangers of what happens with this indiscriminate shooting,” he said.
In another video from March, you see a suspect shooting toward a man as he is driving away, and several of those bullets hit the ground. Another woman we spoke with in April found a shell casing outside her home. She said it makes her scared to take her daughter outside.
“One of the most basic, if not the basic safety rule when you’re handling firearms is: be aware of your backdrops and what’s beyond you,” Simon said.
Simon says it’s not often that stray bullets hit people, but it does happen. Last August, 10-year-old Persayus Davis-May was killed when her home was shot at. In 2020, 19-year-old Brandon Wesley was hit and killed by crossfire when he was playing basketball in the park.
In other cases, police may respond to reports of gunfire where there is no victim, but homes and cars may get hit.
“The danger in that is that, depending on the construction of the home and the caliber or power of the bullet, is that they can penetrate walls,” Simon said.