Woman shares story of surviving New Year's celebratory gunshot wound, hopes dangerous tradition ends

Police enforce celebratory gunfire

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - It is gunfire that is intended to celebrate. But the tradition of shooting into the air on New Year's can be deadly.

Vikki Kemp still has the scar, the bullet and the memory of when she was shot just as the clock hit 12:00 a.m. on New Year's 15 years ago. Kemp was hit by a bullet in her backyard minutes into 1997.

"Everyone continued to eat and I just felt a stinging in my arm. Everyone is talking and I lifted up my arm and said I think I just got hit by a bullet," said Kemp.

The round was removed from where it was lodged in Kemp's arm but the event haunts her every year on December 31st. Police told her the bullet was most likely fired off into the sky in celebration of the New Year.

"It's just like you idiot, do you not understand the damage bullets can do?" questioned Kemp.

Captain David Bernhardt with West Palm Beach Police said firing into the air is not only dangerous, but he said it is illegal.

"You don't know where that round is going to go. It could come down and strike yourself, could come down and strike someone in your family or one of your friends," said Captain Bernhardt.

Kemp considers herself one of the "lucky ones" and hopes people stop the tradition that nearly took her life.
"There's other ways to celebrate and again they don't realize the results," said Kemp. "You know I was very fortunate. Somebody could be killed and it has happened."

Police said they will have officers out enforcing the law but anticipate they still will get calls about homes and cars being shot.

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