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The original item was published from 12/29/2021 4:14:52 PM to 1/1/2022 5:05:01 PM.

News Flash

City of Durham News

Posted on: December 29, 2021

[ARCHIVED] DPD Warns of Dangers of New Year’s Celebratory Gunfire in Second Tribute PSA

Video thumbnail shows image of Paulette Thorpe - "in loving memory of Mrs. Paulette Thorpe"

Dangers of Celebratory Gunfire PSA (English)  | Dangers of Celebratory Gunfire PSA (Spanish)

As New Year’s Eve approaches, the Durham Police Department reminds the community that celebratory gunfire is a crime that can have deadly consequences. A new video PSA released by the department also warns the public that in Durham, anyone caught firing a gun into the air could be charged with a CLASS 3 misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500. In addition to loss of human life, bullets shot in the air can also cause serious harm to pets and cause costly damage to cars and homes.

The video PSA commemorates the life of Durham resident Mrs. Paulette Thorpe, 74, who was tragically killed by celebratory gunfire while sitting on a porch visiting a friend on July 4, 2020. The incident occurred in the 500 block of Burlington Avenue at approximately 11 p.m.

The Thorpe family worked closely with DPD Public Affairs staff to produce two anti-celebratory gunfire PSAs in hopes of appealing to the conscience of the community to help prevent such senseless acts from happening again. The first PSA was released (in English and Spanish) in July 2021 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the senseless act that took Thorpe’s life.

The Durham Police Department reminds the community to celebrate New Year’s safely in the following ways:

  • Follow Motor Vehicle Laws. Do NOT drink and drive. If you do drink, use a designated driver, call a cab, use a rideshare option, phone a friend or walk. Always watch out for pedestrians and observe the speed limit. 

  • Know How Fireworks Work. If you purchase consumer fireworks for personal entertainment, be sure that the fireworks are legal. Without exception, always read fireworks instructions carefully. 
    • Fireworks that explode are illegal in North Carolina.  
    • According to a Durham noise ordinance, from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., the sound level should not be louder than 50 decibels. Experts say that compares to a quiet conversation at home.  
    • The sound of fireworks often frightens pets. Don’t leave pets leashed, fenced or chained up outside during fireworks displays. They may become disoriented, escape and get lost.
  • Follow City of Durham’s Latest COVID-19 Guidelines. Learn about the most recent guidelines residents are asked to follow to stem the resurgence of COVID-19 in the community. Visit the City’s COVID-19 Resource Page -

  • In Case of Emergency Call 911. Residents are reminded to always call 911 in these instances: sounds of gun shots; fire emergency; immediate or potential threat to life or property; medical emergency; other actual or perceived emergency; suspicious persons, vehicles or activity; any type of fight or disturbance; vehicle accident; and/or when a child or pet is locked in a vehicle. 

  • Residents should use Durham’s non-emergency number (919) 560-4600 for non-life-threatening incidents. Examples include barking dogs, loud music, burglaries that occurred hours or days earlier (not in progress) and vandalism to public or private property. Durham's non-emergency number frees up 911 lines for life threatening emergencies.

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