Sunday, November 23, 2014
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DA Williams: Gunfire on New Year's Eve 'a tradition we have to end'

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams warns New Year´s Eve revelers against firing celebratory shots to ring in 2013. Seated in front of the podium is 25-year-old Joe Jaskolka, who was hit in the head by a bullet on Dec. 31, 1998, when he was 11 years old. (Emily Babay / Philly.com)
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams warns New Year's Eve revelers against firing celebratory shots to ring in 2013. Seated in front of the podium is 25-year-old Joe Jaskolka, who was hit in the head by a bullet on Dec. 31, 1998, when he was 11 years old. (Emily Babay / Philly.com)

On New Year’s Eve a year ago, Philadelphia police received 15 times as many reports of gunfire as officers get on a typical night.

City officials telling citizens to not fire guns to ring in 2013.

“There’s a tradition we have to end,” District Attorney Seth Williams said. “It’s a stupid act that can have deadly consequences.”

Joe Jaskolka was hit in the head by a stray bullet on New Year’s Eve in 1998, when he was 11 years old.

Since then, he’s been telling his story to urge revelers to stay away from firearms.

“What happened to Joe could have happened to 154 other Philadelphians last year,” Williams said, referring to the 154 reports of shots fired police received last New Year’s Eve. And that number doesn’t include the scores of people who hear gunfire but don’t report it, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

What happened to Jaskolka was six months in the hospital, 40-plus surgeries and more than $15 million in treatment over the past 14 years. The bullet is still in his head.

“It was an idiotic and senseless act,” Williams said about that incident. 

He said any celebratory shooters police identified this year would be charged with reckless endangerment. If someone is hit, the shooter could also face charges of aggravated assault or attempted murder.

“If we find you, we will lock you up,” Ramsey warned.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Emily Babay Breaking News Desk
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