DURHAM, NC – As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, the Durham Police Department is warning the community to celebrate safely and refrain from shooting off celebratory gunfire, as it could hurt or kill someone.

Two women have been shot and killed by celebratory in the last two years in Durham. 

74-year-old Paulette Thorpe was shot and killed by celebratory gunfire when visiting a friend on Burlington Avenue on July 4, 2020. 

A little more than one year later, 73-year-old Delores Burwell was shot and killed by celebratory gunfire while outside of a friend’s home on Robinhood Road on December 31, 2021. 

One Durham woman, who did not want to be identified, told CBS 17 that last Fourth of July she and her husband were sitting in her living room about 9:30 in the evening when a bullet hit their home. 

“All of a sudden, it was a boom and a bullet came crashing through the wall,” she said. “It hit the ceiling and threw plaster all over our plates.” 

She said the bullet bounced all over her house, ricocheting from the ceiling and almost hit her in the ear. 

“I can still hear the whizzing sound when I think about it,” she said. “It’s unbelievable, that something like that can happen in this day and age, in the city limits when gunfire is illegal.” 

Thankfully neither she nor her husband were shot. 

She said she is not sure where the bullet came from, but she thinks it was likely from celebratory gunfire. 

“I was in my home, the wall offered no protection,” she said. “Everything it hit, it bounced off and could’ve hit us. There was no protection in my own home. All the peace was stolen from me.” 

CBS 17 looked through a spreadsheet of shooting events during the July 4 holiday in 2021 and found almost a dozen shooting vandalism incidents reported on July 4 and the day after. 

Bullets hit vehicles, ceilings, drywall, and windows in homes in different parts of the city, according to the police reports. 

The police reports did not specify if any of the incidents were the result of celebratory gunfire. However, the data on the spreadsheet provided by Durham Police showed an increase in shooting vandalism cases during the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve holidays in recent years. 

Durham Police is asking the community to not discharge a weapon into the air, as you could face a misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500. 

The woman who had a bullet fly into her home last Fourth of July is pleading with folks in the community to put the guns down. 

“We need to think about safety and about the people on the next block,” she said. “We all want to live through to the next Fourth of July and that almost didn’t happen for me.”