As the Fourth of July holiday nears, a Ruskin family is warning of the dangers of celebratory gunfire.
Diego Duran was injured on New Year's Eve when a bullet fell from the sky and struck him in the head. Kat Chiu is the boy's Godmother.
"You don't need a gun to celebrate," Chiu explains.
She and the rest of the Duran family are pushing for a bullet-free sky for the upcoming holiday.
Diego, 13, is still recovering from injuries incurred on that fateful night.
America's Birthday is sure to have plenty of Red, White and Boom, but Sandy Duran – Diego's mother – is asking Bay area residents to keep their guns under lock and key on Wednesday.
"Stop shooting [weapons] into the air," Duran says. "That's no way of celebrating; especially when you can put another life in danger."
On Saturday Sandy shared a family photo taken a few days ago with Diego. Everyone in the picture was wearing ‘Bullet-Free Sky' t-shirts.
The teen is back at home, finally, after what his family hopes is his last stay in the hospital. He is currently taking guitar lessons in addition to speech and occupational therapy.
Diego has also been able to spend time at the beach in recent weeks.
"It took awhile [to get to this point]," Chiu explained. "For a while [at the beginning of his recovery] he wasn't even moving. He wasn't responding and then little by little he started opening his eyes."
Back in February, a little more than a month after the shooting, Diego became to awaken from his coma. Since that time he's been through several medical procedures as part of his recovery.
"Just seeing him come through that second stay at the hospital was just another miracle to us," Duran said of Diego's progress.
Chiu recently moved here from Atlanta to help the family with their Bullet-Free Sky campaign.
"I want people to know we're not against guns. We're not against gun ownership or anything like that," Chiu said. "We are against people using guns inappropriately and negligently"
Unlike most fireworks that have a short lifespan once they are ignited, a bullet, once it is fired into the air, there is no way of knowing when or where it will come down.
"The type of bullet that struck Diego, is a 45-caliber, it's about 11 millimeters long, so it's a pretty large bullet," Duran said. "A bullet like that, due to its weight, can travel up to a mile and a half."
Smaller projectiles can travel up to three miles depending on their weight and the type of weapon they are fired from.
"Fireworks go up and make people smile," says Tom Meyer with Galaxy Fireworks in Ruskin. "[Shooting a gun into the air] is not a proper celebration. There are no happy results to that."
The Duran family will spend the holiday together, probably by having a nice dinner followed by a movie. They are just happy to be together following a tough six months.
"[My husband] says we're going to wear helmets on the 4th of July," laughed Sandy.
Duran said just this week, a young boy was killed by a stray bullet in Minneapolis, while watching TV on his grandmother's sofa.
In that case and in Diego's, investigators still have no idea who fired the gun. Some law enforcement agencies have gone to the airwaves in the form of public service announcements denouncing the practice.
Celebratory gunfire is against the law!
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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