A system to accurately and rapidly present the location of gunfire or other explosive events to dispatchers uses a sparse set of distributed acoustic sensors mounted on rooftops or utility poles to allow triangulation of the gunfire sounds. If a fourth signal confirms that an explosive event occurs at a position triangulated from three other signal, then the system announces an event to dispatchers. The system tests various sensor triads against various criteria and selects the best triad for making the triangulation calculation. In the case where multiple gunshots are present, the system can automatically determine a velocity, thus helping identify and respond to drive-by shootings. The system presents a confirmed location on a computer map of the protected community showing where on a specific property the gunfire occurred. The dispatchers can listen to the event and can view wave forms or spectra to assist in discriminating gunshots from other explosive events. If a dispatcher is confident that a gunshot has been detected, law enforcement officers can be directed to the reported location. A printout of the event is generated so police can later show the event location to the residents and inquire why it occurred there. A history of events is maintained for community problem-solving.