HIGHLAND PARK (CBSLA.com) — A Southland man was hospitalized Wednesday with gunshot wounds to the head after being struck by bullet fragments that police say were the remnants of New Year’s celebratory gunfire.
The unidentified 30-year-old man suffered injuries to the left side of his face shortly after midnight as he stood in the front yard of a residence on the 6800 block of North Figueroa Street, according to police.
Investigators say the injuries were caused by fragments from local gunfire after x-rays showed bullet fragments lodged inside the man’s scalp.
“Partygoers believe that projectiles that fell from the sky might have been bullet fragments,” LAPD Sergeant Wayne Gillory told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO.
“I heard a lot of gunshots going off last night, around 12:05 I heard gunshots going off right here,” said Priscilla Rubio, who lives across the street with her 6-year-old daughter. “Even when the cops went by last night and they’re all right here last night, gunshots were still going off” nearby, she said.
“I’ve been living out here for about 12 years and this was the first time I’ve ever heard it that bad,” said Highland Park resident Elmer Gamboa.
It is not known if the stray bullet came from the party or from somewhere close by. Police do not have a suspect in custody and the investigation is ongoing.
The victim was expected to be released from Huntington Memorial Hospital later Wednesday.
Video from a Lynwood parking garage captured the sound of gunshots blending in with local fireworks as residents rang in 2014, despite a Los Angeles County-wide campaign by law enforcement encouraging gun owners to refrain from such incidents.
Sheriff Lee Baca warned of the dangers of firing a gun into the air Tuesday, hours before the shooting.
“A bullet fired into the air can return to earth at speeds between 300 and 700 feet per second, fast enough to penetrate a person’s skull,” Baca said.
Law enforcement has maintained efforts to educate the public about the dangers of firing a gun into the air over the years. The last time someone was killed as a result of New Year’s Eve gunfire was 15 years ago.