Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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."

Boy's mother warns: Don't fire your gun into the air on the Fourth of July 07/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 11:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic


    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law


    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  3. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system


    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.
  4. After Charlottesville, Judy Genshaft asks USF to "stand together with open minds and open hearts"


    TAMPA — In a welcome letter celebrating the start of a new academic year, University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft took a moment to reflect on last weekend's violence in Charlottesville and asked students to unite with "open minds and open hearts."

    USF president Judy Genshaft posed with graduate Matt Jackson in 2015.
  5. Police: Man arrested in Largo had thousands of child pornography files


    LARGO — A 43-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after detectives found thousands of child pornography images and videos on his laptop.

    Tyrone Jeffrey Russell, 43, was arrested Wednesday on child pornography charges, according to Largo police. [Pinellas County Jail]