MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fireworks are typical to hear while ringing in the New Year, but all around the Mid-South, something much scarier filled the air on New Year's Eve: gunfire.
— Luke Jones (@LukeJonesTV) January 1, 2019
There were reports of hearing gunfire mixed with fireworks across Memphis, and it was the same for residents of Forrest City, Arkansas.
“It was getting close to midnight," resident Lisa Reeves said. "I started hearing them in more rapid succession.”
She said she felt like she was in the middle of a war zone.
“You may normally hear a couple rounds, but you won’t hear 1,000-plus rounds," Reeves said. "It sounded like something you'd hear in a news report with someone embedded with an armed division.”
Forrest City Mayor Cedric WIlliams had his first official day on the job on January 2, though he'd already been overseeing city agencies including the police department.
“It was a difficult night. Tough night," he said of New Year's Eve.
He said officers did go out Monday night, but they kept their lights and sirens off to try to catch the shooters in the act. Forrest City officers responded to 178 calls all night in a town of around 14,000 people.
“We have laws now where more and more people are carrying guns," Williams said. "You have more and more people carrying guns, you have more gunfire. What is unusual this seems like more of the high caliber weapons being shot.”
In Memphis, police said they responded to more than 100 calls at midnight alone, and they had more calls this year on New Year's Eve than last year.
— Ethan H (@ELH_97) January 1, 2019
*Video shot by resident near Orange Mound at midnight.
“There’s got to be something done about this because what goes up must come down, and I even found a gunshot on my house this morning," Reeves said.
Williams also said it's just a matter of time before someone innocent is hurt.
“When those bullets go up, there may be kids outside," he said. "A 6-year-old killed in Oakland. Injuries all over country.”
They just want people to celebrate safely and legally.
No one in Forrest City reported any gunshot injuries. Memphis Police said they treated at least one person who got shot in the leg.
Forrest City officers said they are working on a plan to better saturate areas with patrolling on holidays.