Fireworks safety tips were of little use to the many Americans wounded by stray bullets and targeted in violent armed assaults on the Fourth of July.
At least 14 people, including several children and a police officer, were among the innocent bystanders, which included several fatalities and other victims left in critical condition.
As Independence Day approached, the Florida family of a boy wounded on New Year’s Eve called for restraint, but at least a half dozen stray bullet victims emerged across the state.
A 74-year-old man was struck in the face when a bullet fell from the sky while he was watching the Fourth of July fireworks at the Safety Harbor Marina.
In nearby Temple Terrace, FL, a mother holding her son was watching fireworks when she was shot in the leg.
Another stray bullet wounded a 40-year-old woman who was enjoying Fourth of July celebrations in West Palm Beach. Three teenagers were shot about an hour later in a separate incident about two blocks away.
Just off Palm Beach, a 64-year-old woman on a cruise ship was hit by a stray bullet.
Two more people were wounded while while they were watching the Fourth of July fireworks show in Coral Gables. Both were hit by stray bullets.
A Michigan woman suffered a gunshot wound to the head while watching fireworks in Lansing, a teenage girl was hospitalized after she was struck by a stray bullet while doing the same in St. Louis, and in Beaumont, TX, a police officer was struck in his protective vest by a stray bullet while driving Wednesday night.
At the same time, many more Americans became the targets of gunfire. The Guardian took note from across the Atlantic that “While Americans across the country celebrated Independence Day on Wednesday, several of the nation’s largest cities reported disturbing incidents of violence, with dozens of people shot and many killed.”
Twenty-one people were shot during a 24-hour period ending early Thursday in New York, four people were shot, one fatally in Washington, DC, and three people were shot at Philadelphia’s Fourth of July celebration.