DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Authorities in Daytona Beach cracked down on celebratory New Year's Eve gunfire Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
"The men and women from my department are out here every New Year's, this is our eighth year in a row, and every year we're out here grabbing somebody, no matter how much we put the word out," said Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood.
Chitwood told Channel 9 it can be difficult to prosecute people who fire guns in the air to celebrate.
Police caught up with two men they said fired weapons.
"In tonight's (incident), you've got a guy with a concealed weapons permit. He's supposed to be a responsible citizen, look how responsible, running around, there are kids outside on these corners and he thinks it's OK to walk down the street and fire your weapon in the air," said Chitwood.
Chitwood said New Year's Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for his department.
"The best way to term it is, 'It's amateur night.' For some reason, people like to check their common sense at the front door and they think it's OK to do things that's not OK to do the other 364 days a year," said Chitwood.
Celebratory gunfire into the air when the clock strikes 12 is one of most common offenses, according to Chitwood.
In 2006, Allen Bookman died when a stray bullet hit him during celebrations in Orlando.
"Going outside and firing off your AK-47 to celebrate the New Year is a good way to get yourself locked up. You know, what goes up must come down," said Chitwood.
Firing a gun into the air is a third-degree felony and can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison. But Tolison learned that a Daytona Beach man arrested last New Year's for allegedly firing guns, has yet to be tried.
Last year, Daytona Beach police arrested Pedro Pinckney and two others for allegedly firing assault-style weapons from a home on School Street. Pinckney was only charged with carrying a concealed weapon and his case hasn't yet gone to trial.
Chitwood said catching someone in the act of shooting guns into the air is the key to a strong case. He said he wishes he had more resources to do it.
"I wish I could put every single cop that we have out there to prevent that because it is so ridiculous, it is so reckless, it is so negligent to go outside and do that," said Chitwood.
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