As New Year’s Eve approaches, Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Joseph H. “Jack” Lumpkin Sr.’s thoughts include Marquel Peters.
"Marquel was 4 in 2010 and attending a church service with his family near Decatur when a bullet fired by a New Year’s Eve celebrant fell to Earth, pierced the ceiling of the church and killed the child," a police spokesman says.
“It shows the senselessness of such a dangerous activity,” Chief Lumpkin says. “Marquel’s death is one of the worst examples of the perils of celebratory gunfire that one can imagine – a heartfelt tragedy. But there are hundreds of other examples where shots fired in the air have returned to hurt or kill innocent people. We are asking people in the Savannah and Chatham County area not to participate in celebratory gunfire."
Shots fired during holiday celebrations have been increasingly problematic for Metro Police, but this year a new system called ShotSpotter has been installed in some areas and "will alert police within seconds after a shot is fired."
“Instead of reacting within minutes, our officers can arrive within seconds after the shot is fired, and we will be pressing charges if we find the suspect,” Lumpkin says.
“Serious injury or death can result any time a bullet is fired in this manner. We are asking our citizens not to rely on technology but to call police immediately if they see someone firing a gun into the air or even preparing to do so. If we are alerted quickly enough, we can avoid another tragedy like Marquel’s.”