RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A UNC student was injured during Raleigh’s New Year’s Eve celebration downtown after she was hit by celebratory gunfire at midnight, police said.
A gun was fired into the air during the midnight fireworks and the bullet came down and hit 22-year-old Kaitlyn Kong at the intersection of Fayetteville and Davie streets, according to police. The incident occurred around 12:05 a.m., according to officials.
Kong was transported to WakeMed with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.
“She’s stable. She had four or five hours of surgery last night,” said her father, Jeffrey Kong. “They had to cut her open because it went in and punctured the corner of her lung. It went in the bottom of her chest, in her abdomen, through her stomach and it bounced around inside. It’s awful.”
Kong said it was his daughter’s first time at First Night Raleigh for the annual acorn drop.
“My daughter, she’d never been downtown. She wanted to see the acorn. Never goes downtown. The one time she goes downtown,” Kong said.
He said Kong felt a pain in her gut, and collapsed. The UNC student’s roommate helped her out of the packed crowd near the acorn.
“It’s just stupidity. Guns are not designed for (that). Those are lethal weapons. It could have went to somebody’s eye, ear, somebody’s heart,” Kong said. “Someone is going to get killed someday. I mean she’s lucky, I guess.”
Kong said his daughter is expected to be in the hospital for several days.
After talking with CBS 17, the Kong family released the following statement:
“We are grateful for the community’s outpouring of well wishes and thoughtful concern. While we ask for privacy as we continue to focus on Kaitlyn’s healing and recovery, it is our hope that this unfortunate series of events will bring about more conversation and positive action on responsible gun use.”
A Raleigh police spokesperson said they do not know who fired the gun, but an investigation is ongoing.
A spokesperson for Artsplosure, the company behind First Night Raleigh said in a statement “we are aware of the incident that occurred in downtown last night and understand it to be an ongoing RPD investigation.”
Anyone with information that might assist the investigation of this incident is asked to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at (919)-834-HELP or visit their website for text and email reporting options. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for anonymous tips that help solve cases.