Glendale police ready to track random gunfire on New Year's Eve

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's a felony in Arizona to randomly fire a weapon, and with New Year's Eve, a holiday often marked with celebratory gunfire, just days away, police are getting ready to track offenders.

The state law that makes random gunfire illegal is called Shannon's Law. It was named for a 14-year-old girl who was killed by a random bullet in 1999. Shannon Smith was talking on the phone in the backyard of her Central Phoenix home when she was hit. She died instantly.

Sgt. Brent Coombs of the Glendale Police Department gave Bruce Haffner the lowdown on his department's high-tech gunfire-detection system. It's called SpotShotter and it's extremely accurate.

"If you fire a round, that equipment is good enough that it can tell us exactly -- to the house -- where that round was fired from," Coombs said.

Coombs said people still don't consider the inherent danger of firing a weapon into the air.

"If you fire that gun, that bullet is going to go up, but it's coming down somewhere and it's going to do some damage somewhere," he said.

Until Shannon's Law was enacted in 2000, firing a gun into the air was a misdemeanor. Shannon's Law made it a class 6 felony. Conviction on a first offense carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one and one half years.