Arthur Hughes still keeps the spent bullet that crashed through his roof as a chilling reminder of how his or a loved one's life could have ended.
Hughes had come back from church Jan. 1, 2008, and found the bullet on the floor of his Riverdale home.
"I looked up and saw the hole," Hughes said. "Somebody could've been hurt if we were all home sitting in that area," Hughes said.
Someone had fired a shot from a .45 caliber handgun into the air to ring in the New Year.
He does not know who did it, but he is certain of one thing.
"That needs to stop. It's just not coming across to the community how dangerous this is," Hughes said.
Hughes launched a one-man mission to cease the celebratory gunfire. Each year he reminds people of how dangerous aimlessly firing their weapons can be.
"You need to find a better way to celebrate the new year," Hughes said.
Back 2009, a stray bullet struck and killed 4-year-old Marquel Peters as he attended a New Year's Eve service at church.
Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson warned that celebratory gunfire is illegal.
He said, however, many people open fire, thinking they're having harmless fun and without thinking about where their bullets land.
"I think if they knew those rounds could harm someone, they could kill someone and they wouldn't do it," Patterson said. "It's going up in the air and coming down and could harm or kill an innocent bystander."
Annette Jordan, a Jonesboro resident, understand the problem all too well. She said a stray bullet flew into her home a few years ago.
"It could've hit one of my children. It could've hit me," Jordan said.
She was lucky, Marquel Peters was not.
Hughes said that tragedy can strike again if people remain careless and blindly fire their guns into the air, without considering how deadly their actions can be.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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