Watch CBS News

Philadelphia Authorities Warn Against Firing Guns on New Year's Eve

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia police and the district attorney say they want everyone to have a happy and safe new year, warning that shooting guns into the air to celebrate isn't safe and won't be tolerated.

A briefing was held this morning at Philadelphia police headquarters.

"Please, enjoy yourself responsibly," said police commissioner Charles Ramsey (far left in photo below). "Ring in the New Year in a good way, but don't put somebody else's life in jeopardy because you will go to jail."

gunplay IMG_4867 _tawa
(Phila. DA Seth Williams warns against shooting guns to celebrate New Year's Eve. Phila. police commissioner Charles Ransey is at far left. Seated at right is Joe Jaskolka, who was paralyzed by a stray bullet on New Year's Eve 1998. Photo by Steve Tawa)


"There is zero tolerance for people shooting firearms into the air to 'celebrate' the holiday," noted Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams (at lectern in photo). "It's a stupid act that can have deadly consequences, and there is nothing festive about it."

Joe Jaskolka, accompanied by his father, shared his story.

On December 31, 1998, Jaskolka, then 11 years old, was struck in the head by a bullet while walking along Fernon Street near Second, in South Philadelphia.

The bullet is still lodged in his head and the person who fired the gun has never been caught. Now 27, Joe is paralyzed on the right side and has undergone more than 50 surgeries.

"This is very simple," said Joe Jaskolka, "what goes up must come down."

"We went from having an annual New Year's Eve party to having an annual press conference," his father, Gregory Jaskolka, said.

The district attorney's office says that on an average night, Philadelphia police might receive a maximum of ten reports of gunshots fired.

Last New Year's Eve, police received 114 reports of gunshots fired between 10pm on December 31, 2013 and 3am on January 1, 2014.

The DA says anyone caught shooting a firearm into the air could be charged with recklessly endangering another person and, if a bullet hits someone, the shooter could be charged with aggravated assault, attempted murder, or even murder.

Must Read Today's Top Stories

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.