Richard Smeraldo has a gash on his nose and four stitches on his chin. But he is alive.
The 74-year-old was out with his wife, her sister, and a friend for the 4th of July. They were
in a grassy area near the Safety Harbor Spa. About 20 minutes into the fireworks show, Richard sat waiting for the finale.
"I'm looking straight up like this and then the finale starts and all of a sudden -- wham! -- I get hit in the nose. I think it's a big rock."
He said there was blood everywhere. And then they looked next to them on the blanket and saw a bullet.
"We looked at my baseball cap and saw the hole; there was a hole right through the cap," he continued.
Richard described the path the bullet took after he exited his cap.
"This bullet goes down through my nose out my nostril here, hits me on the lip here, goes through this fleshy part of my chin here," he said. "They put two stitches here, two stitches down here. Goes out and hits the medallion that I was wearing."
The bullet shattered his necklace and left a mark on the medallion. He just had the medallion made and got it back two weeks ago.
He's thanking his mother, who is now deceased, for inspiring the medallion. It has a phrase on it that reads, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Basically it means nothing is impossible, even if you have a small amount of faith.
"There is was, it stopped the bullet. It could have lodged in my chest," Richard added. "I'm thankful for my mom, for sure."
But he is also amazed someone would even chose to celebrate the holiday in such
a reckless way.
"It's totally beyond me, it's insane that someone thinks they can do that."
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says it will be a difficult task to find the person who shot the gun.
"There's going to be a challenge to this, where did the bullet come from, how far away, the
caliber will be determined after processing from the FDLE lab," a detective explained.
It is illegal in Florida to fire a gun into the air.
On New Year's Day, a 12-year-old boy in Ruskin suffered critical injuries after a falling bullet struck him in the head. No arrests were ever made in that case.
"If I had just maybe had my head this way," said Smeraldo, tilting his head forward. "Rather than like that, it would have gone right through my skull. Especially with the other case of the young boy."
Smeraldo was referring to Diego Duran, who is still recovering from a stray bullet that pierced his skull New Years Eve. His family has been pushing for a, "Bullet Free Sky", ever since. You can learn more about their efforts at: www.bulletfreesky.com
"He wanted to know every single detail, where did the bullet go in? How bad was it? Is he ok?," said Diego's mother Sandy Thursday. "So, our hearts are with you."
"It's sad to hear it, it's also sad to say, that it's not a surprise," said Diego's Godmother Kat Chiu.
And Smeraldo is not the only one nursing bullet wounds.
So is a mother, who was hit by a stray bullet, during fireworks at the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club Wednesday.
The Club said the woman was waiting off of the number one tee, with hundreds of others, watching the fireworks and then, that's when, Temple Terrace Police said she was struck by the bullet.
Police said the bullet hit her in the right leg. She was holding her baby on her left, so the child was not hurt. Police have not released her name.
"I imagine how she can feel and I felt the same way with Diego," said Duran. "We were standing side by side, along with his friend and sisters, thinking that having your kid by your side, you're safe, not knowing who, a mile, 3 miles away, can be shooting-up, putting your child in danger."
"We want people to stop shooting," said Duran. "So other people don't have to hide in, and we can all enjoy the sky and the fireworks and just be outdoors and be safe!"
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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