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Woman at Busch Gardens hit in leg by possible celebratory gunfire, police say

Published Jan. 2, 2015

TAMPA — A 20-year-old woman attending New Year's festivities at Busch Gardens was struck in the leg by a bullet, possibly from celebratory gunfire, Tampa police said.

Kaitlyn Jacobs, 20, of Seminole was sitting in the Gwazi Pavilion area just before midnight when she suddenly felt pain in her lower left leg. She was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, where x-rays revealed a bullet was lodged in her leg.

"It appears that someone had fired in the air and the bullet inadvertently struck the victim," police said in a statement.

Back at home Thursday morning, Jacobs told the Tampa Bay Times she'd been watching fireworks with her dad when the sudden pain appeared in her leg. She called it a "freak accident," one she didn't want to discuss in detail. She said her leg now bears two wounds; doctors did not remove the bullet.

"The biggest thing is we don't understand how there are two holes and a bullet in my leg," said Jacobs.

No other injuries were reported at or near Busch Gardens.

Officers said Thursday that they are still trying to find out who fired the gun. They describe it as an isolated incident.

Tampa police got about 30 reports of possible shots fired on New Year's Eve.

Celebratory gunfire is illegal and has caused several injuries in the Tampa Bay area in recent years.

On New Year's Day 2012, a bullet hit a Ruskin boy as he watched fireworks with his family. The bullet that traced diagonally through Diego Duran's brain, leaving him comatose for days, had probably been fired into the sky miles away. He and his family have since made it a mission to spread awareness about the danger of celebratory gunfire.

Tampa Bay area police have reported other injuries in recent years, including a man who was struck in the nose on Fourth of July in 2012 while he was watching fireworks in Safety Harbor.

Contact Jodie Tillman at jtillman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @jtillmantimes.

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