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HCSO device to detect celebratory gunfire

July 02, 2016

This weekend, many people will celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks. Others will take the illegal route: firing off guns. It can be deadly for anyone within miles.

But, for the first 4th of July, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has new technology to catch those pulling the trigger and putting innocent people in danger.

Do you think you can tell the difference between fireworks booms and the bang of a gun?

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office now can with a new program, called Shot Spotter.

The equipment picks up gunshot blasts, analyzing the data and relaying that information to HCSO to help keep you safe.

“In the past, unless someone called in and told us someone was in the front yard shooting, we would not know about it. We have technology now that gets us in now within about a minute of it happening and lets us know exactly where it happened,” says Capt. David Fleet. “Just because you fire it up, doesn't mean it's not going to hit somebody,” Capt. Fleet says.

We've seen so many people injured by celebratory gunfire on holidays in the Bay Area.

“If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” says 17-year-old Diego Duran.

Duran knows. He got hit in the head by a bullet while watching fireworks from his front porch in Ruskin in 2012.

“It felt like that feeling when you hit your funny bone, that tingling, but throughout my whole body,” says Duran.

His mom, Sandy, founded Bullet Free Sky.

They’ve made a PSA to warn everyone how one bullet can change lives in an instant. They also have a Facebook page.

In four years, the Lennard High senior has struggled to continue school and get his memory back. “It affects us all whether we have a gun or not, bullets come down and could kill anyone out there,” says Sandy Duran.

“What we are hoping is the public knows we have this (technology) now, maybe they'll use a little more common sense and not fire firearms up in the air or even at all,” says Capt. Fleet.

The sheriff's office says it probably won't be using Shot Spotter this holiday to bust people for illegal fireworks, but will track reports this weekend and may warn people at those addresses on the next holiday.

If you're out celebrating and see someone illegally fire off a gun, call Crimestoppers: 1-800-873-TIPS (8477) and you could get a $1,000 reward.

WTSP - Hillsborough County