Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Public safety

Boy's mother warns: Don't fire your gun into the air on the Fourth of July

A year and a half ago, 12-year-old Diego Duran stood watching a New Year's fireworks display in his front yard when a bullet fell from the sky and penetrated his skull.

He spent the next five months in the hospital and later endured months of rehabilitative therapy as a result of what authorities think was celebratory gunfire.

On Wednesday, a day before the Fourth of July holiday, the Ruskin teen stood alongside his mother, Sandy Duran, and supporters of her nonprofit group Bullet Free Sky, to encourage revelers to avoid firing their guns into the air.

"We have spoken to so many people, including people who have practiced celebratory gunfire," Sandy Duran said of her group's efforts. "And we've been able to change their minds about it."

The idea to create the group came to Sandy Duran hours after her son was shot, as she sat in a hospital visitor's room awaiting word about his condition. Not long after, Bullet Free Sky was born.

The nonprofit group visits local venues and maintains a presence at community events to educate people about the dangers of celebratory gunfire. Members hand out literature and gear up to promote their cause before every major holiday.

Sandy Duran emphasizes that it is not an anti-gun group. Rather, the mission is safety and common sense.

"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."

To continue to get their message out, the group held a fundraiser Wednesday at the Firehouse Cultural Center, 101 First Ave. NE in Ruskin. The event featured live music, raffles, a gun safety presentation and other activities.

The bullet that hit Diego Duran could have come from as far as a few miles away from his home. Despite a high-profile investigation, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies have never been able to pinpoint exactly where the bullet came from. No arrests have been made.

Today, Diego is better, but still deals with lingering effects of his injury. He has memory problems. A shunt still drains fluid from his brain to his stomach.

But despite his affliction, Diego has moved on, his mother said.

"A lot has changed in many different ways," she said. "It has kind of been up and down to the extreme."

Comments
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 33-year-old man was arrested Monday on a charge of sexual battery, accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.The assault took place ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

St. Petersburg power outage affects thousands

More than 2,000 Duke Energy customers are without power after a cluster of storms rolled through earlier this afternoon, according to Duke Energy.The area without power stretches along 62nd Avenue N from 12th Street N to 30th Way N, according to the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

Safety Harbor fire chief departs: ‘Take pride in the job’

SAFETY HARBOR — When Fire Chief Joe Accetta started working at the Safety Harbor Fire Department, Fire Station 53 was a double wide in the middle of a field now home to Mease Countryside Hospital.Now almost four decades of challenges and promotions l...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

Deputies search for suspects in rapper XXXTentacion slaying

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Deputies were searching for suspects Tuesday after troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was fatally shot in the driver’s seat of a luxury electric sports car. The 20-year-old rising star, who pronounced his stage name "Ex Ex Ex...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

Lakeland father, girlfriend face charges in death of 6-year-old girl

A Lakeland man and his girlfriend face charges of first-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter in the death of his 6-year-old daughter last week.Larry Lewis Golden Jr., 26, Breonna B. Wren, 21, were arrested Friday and are being held without bail ...
Published: 06/19/18
Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

Argument over dog leads to fatal shooting in Polk County

A Fort Meade man was killed Monday night and two others were wounded after Polk County deputies say they approached a man while searching for a lost dog.The shooting occurred around 6:45 p.m. at the home of suspected shooter Charles Peddycoart, at 41...
Published: 06/19/18
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Published: 06/18/18
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Published: 06/18/18
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Published: 06/18/18