‘Put the guns down’: Philly officials warn against using gunfire to celebrate Fourth of July

Last year, two police officers were grazed by bullets apparently fired into the air after the annual Fourth of July concert on the Parkway.

A performer is seen on the phone screen of a spectator of Philly's Wawa Welcome America July 4th concert

A spectator films the Welcome America concert on July 4, 2022, before the shooting broke it up. (Mikey Reeves for Billy Penn)

Philadelphia is ramping up efforts to prevent celebratory gunfire on Independence Day.

The move comes a year after two police officers were grazed by bullets following the annual Fourth of July concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Police at the time said the bullets were fired from the same weapon and could have traveled from more than a mile away.

District Attorney Larry Krasner put out an urgent call for residents to think twice about using guns to celebrate the holiday.

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“Please, whatever you do, please put the guns down,” he said. “There is nothing about celebration that involves pointing a gun in the air and pulling the trigger, nothing about it.”

Krasner took to verse to dramatize his point. “Shoot at the sun, you’ll be the locked-up one. Shoot at the moon, you’ll be locked up soon,” he said.

Deputy Police Commissioner John Stanford said the department has canceled days off for officers to make sure the concert and the neighborhoods are safe.

“For anyone considering taking part in celebratory gunfire, please understand that you will be arrested. That type of reckless behavior cannot go unnoticed or unpunished,” Stanford said.

“We will utilize every available resource to identify and arrest individuals who engage in this dangerous activity.” he added. “These careless actions have an impact on innocent bystanders, families, and our communities as a whole. So let us celebrate this holiday responsibly and respectfully.”

In the year since those two officers were shot near the Parkway concert site, no arrests have been made.

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“That still is an active investigation again coming up on a year, and the officer still has to deal with the reality, the trauma of an incident like that occurring,” Stanford said.

Krasner said he is ready to charge a suspect if police put a good case forward.

This year, city officials are erecting a fence around the concert site and stationing police around it to provide better security.

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