Celebratory Gunfire Injures Two, Law Enforcement In Search Of Suspects

By Tamas Mondovics

Detectives with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office are searching for suspects involved in discharging their firearms as a way to celebrate the New Year.

The dangerous, irresponsible yet, popular practice of firing into the air, known as Celebratory Gunfire, often results in someone needlessly being seriously injured or killed by falling bullets.

Sadly, the Sheriff’s Office reported two cases of what they say was the result of residents firing their guns into the air during the hours of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Detectives said that on Saturday, December 31, 2016 at approximately 9:10 p.m., Terry Wayne Snyder was riding a bicycle on Deerfield St. in Tampa, when he felt a sharp pain in his leg. Snyder reported that at the same time he heard fireworks in the area. After he was transported to Tampa General Hospital and treated for a gunshot wound Snyder was released.

Less than three hours later on Sunday, January 1 at 12:09 a.m., Jesus Garcia-Renteria, was standing in the front yard of 6010 1st Street in Wimauma watching fireworks when a bullet struck him in the arm.

“Witnesses at the scene had no idea where the shot came from nor did anyone see any weapons,” said HCSO Detective and Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon, adding that Renteria was also transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated and later released.

With no suspects at this time, HCSO detectives are asking the public’s assistance, while Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the unknown suspect(s) involved in these two cases.  

Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the suspect and who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile application. Crime Stoppers must be contacted first in order to be eligible for a cash reward.

Efforts to discuss the dangers of celebratory gunfire and ultimately to stop the practice is not new.

On Friday, December 30, 2016 at 3:30 p.m., HCSO Captain Dave Fleet, joined by Bullet Free Sky a non-profit organization to educate the public and raise awareness on the dangers of Celebratory Gunfire, hosted a press conference at Shooter’s World shooting range located at 116 East Fletcher Ave. in Tampa.

“Celebratory gunfire remains a serious problem in many communities,” said Sandy Duran, whose 12-year-old son Diego was struck in the head by a .45 caliber bullet while the family watched fireworks on the wake of the New Year in 2012, in Ruskin. “We are all celebrating under the same sky, so it is vital to protect our loved ones and communities from harm during the holidays and, we cannot do it alone.”

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to a policy of zero tolerance of illegal gun use and will enhance our initiatives to combat gun violence in this community.

“Our mission is to protect the quality of life for all residents throughout our community by creating an environment of enhances safety and security,” McKinnon said.

For more information please visit www.Bulletfreesky.org or mail to bulletfreesky@gmail.com.