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South St. Louis neighborhoods strive to put an end to a dangerous NYE tradition

ST. LOUIS – It is a problem police in the St. Louis region see year after year on New Year's Eve - bullets fired into the night sky to celebrate the holiday. Those "celebratory" shots can cause damage and can be fatal.

Residents in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis are working together proactively this year to put an end to this tradition after a video posted to YouTube gave many of them cause for concern.

A Shaw resident's home surveillance camera captured the first 10 minutes of 2018. The sound of rapid gunfire filled the air. Residents reported gunfire hit their buildings, went through their homes, and nearly struck people inside.

This week, volunteers from Shaw and Tower Grove Heights have been going door-to-door ahead of New Year's Eve to hand out door hangers reminding neighbors to celebrate safely. The hangers include phone numbers to police.

"Celebratory gunfire is dangerous, could be possibly fatal, and it is illegal," said Dan Powell, president of the Shaw Neighborhood Ownership Model.

Powell said the feedback has been positive. Many residents either heard the gunfire firsthand or saw the disturbing video and they do not want history to repeat itself.

Gail Keelin has lived in the Shaw neighborhood for three years. After last year's New Year's Eve events, she decided to get involved with Shaw NOM.

"I think that was the biggest incident of gunfire we've had since we've lived in the neighborhood, and certainly, with the 10-minute video out on YouTube of just constant shooting, that got a lot of attention," she said.

Shaw resident David King has lived in several St. Louis neighborhoods and said the problem is widespread.

"It's dumb is what it is," said King. "What goes up, must come down."

Less than two miles from where shots were fired in Shaw, a 31-year-old woman was struck in the back by celebratory gunfire in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. At the time, police said she was stable when taken to the hospital.

A home surveillance camera in north St. Louis City also captured gunfire and a resident reported bullets pierced the walls of his house.

St. Louis County police battle similar situations. Last New Year's Eve, a round went through an exterior wall of a home in north St. Louis County and shattered a lamp located in the residents' living room.

Police report a bullet also entered a home in south St. Louis County and came to a stop in a bedroom. Multiple cars were damaged by stray bullets and dozens of unexplained shell casings were located.

Shaw neighbors will come together with other south city residents to host an information session with St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed to discuss a Ceasefire Project which aims to put a stop to gun violence in the city. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Tower Grove Baptist Church (4257 Magnolia Avenue).