Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Falling bullets strike man, pierce roof on July Fourth in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — Susan Tuttle thought she heard a gunshot — not fireworks — in her neighborhood late Thursday night.

When she woke early Friday, the 55-year-old discovered she was right: She found a hole in her ceiling and a bullet lodged in her bamboo table.

"That's where my cat sleeps," Tuttle said. "I'm just glad it was raining, and Gizzy was away from the windows."

Officers believe the bullet came from someone who fired a rifle into the sky to celebrate the Fourth of July, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

"Kids were outside running around," said Tuttle, who lives in the 4000 block of 11th Avenue N. "They could have easily been hurt. It's just crazy."

About 10 p.m. Thursday, another bullet fell from the sky about 3 miles from Tuttle's home at 10th Avenue S and 16th Street.

Police said the bullet hit Robert Anthony Turner, 38, who was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with cuts on his neck and right eyebrow. The injuries were not life threatening.

Officers didn't find the bullet or the person who fired it. Turner could not be reached for comment Friday.

Law enforcement officials throughout Tampa Bay pleaded with residents this year not to fire guns in the air on the Fourth of July. Celebratory fire is illegal, Puetz said, and has caused several injuries in the area in recent years.

"We have to repeat the same things over and over again," he said. "It's now just a case of people acting irresponsibly and not caring about the consequences."

On New Year's Eve, 67-year-old Laurie Eberhardt was hit in the wrist by a falling bullet as she watched fireworks from the second-story balcony of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. She was treated at a local hospital.

Last July Fourth, 75-year-old Richard Smeraldo was watching fireworks in Safety Harbor when he thought someone had smashed his nose with a baseball bat. A falling bullet had clipped through the bill of his hat, struck his nose and exited through his nostril. He was stitched up at a local hospital.

Diego Duran, a 12-year-old from Ruskin, was hit in the head by a falling bullet while he watched fireworks at his family's home on New Year's Eve two years ago.

He sustained brain damage and was, at first, unable to remember his mom's name. He lost his sense of smell. After multiple surgeries, he has recovered but still has occasional trouble with short-term memory.

His mother, Sandy Duran, launched a public awareness campaign called Bullet Free Sky. On Wednesday, as her son stood beside her, she asked revelers not to fire guns into the air.

"A lot of the things we hear are 'My grandfather used to do it,' or 'My uncle did it,' " she said. "We want people to know that when they pull that trigger, they can take someone's life."

Times staff writer Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Danielle Paquette can be reached at or (727) 445-4224.

Falling bullets strike man, pierce roof on July Fourth in St. Pete 07/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 9:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)