A man reportedly shot and killed his girlfriend as he fired rounds into the air to celebrate New Year’s Eve in one of a string of gun deaths to mark the dawn of a new decade in America.
Cleveland police have launched an investigation after a 31-year-old woman, who has not been named, was struck by a stray bullet in a residential block on the west side of the Ohio city, according to local broadcaster 19 News.
Officers attended the scene shortly after midnight – learning during their investigation that the woman’s 38-year-old boyfriend had been “popping off” rounds from a gun to mark the end of 2019. He has since been arrested.
The woman was among a number to be shot and killed during New Year’s Eve festivities in the US – a day which normally sees a slight uptick in gun related injuries due to increased alcohol use and the use of munitions to ring in the New Year.
Across the city 11 shootings took place across a nine-hour period on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with 13 people shot in total.
Elsewhere Philippa Ashford, a nurse, was also gunned down by celebratory bullets on the outskirts of Houston, Texas.
The 61-year-old had been standing at the edge of her driveway to watch fireworks being launched by her friends and family when she was shot, according to officers cited by local media.
“At this point from our witnesses and seeing at the scene, we believe this may very well be a case of celebratory gunfire somewhere else in the neighbourhood,” Sergeant Ben Beall of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office told regional broadcaster ABC 13.
He added there was “no indication a family member or anyone else in the cul-de-sac was discharging a firearm”.
Meanwhile in Phoenix, Arizona, a fragment of a bullet struck a three-year-old boy at around 9:30pm.
The city is one of a small number to have legislated against celebratory gunfire following the death of 14-year-old Shannon Smith in 1999, who was killed by a stray bullet.
At the time celebratory gunfire was punishable as a low level misdemeanour, but now stands as a more serious felony offence in the Phoenix area.
In 2017, the most recent year with complete data, gun related deaths across the US reached a 20-year high of 39,773 – equivalent to 109 deaths every day, or between four and five people killed every hour.