Just like clockwork, scores of stupid gun owners ignore that wisdom and seriously injure someone. Even horror stories such as 5-year-old Ricki Isaac being killed by falling bullets in 1997 and a 6-year-old in town from Italy surviving a celebratory bullet to the chest two years ago haven't stopped them.
This year's casualty is Miami musician Ted Zimmerman, who was lucky to escape alive — but he won't be playing his trumpet anytime soon. An errant bullet tore through his index finger and lodged in his middle one.
Zimmerman is the second person whom local police have confirmed was hit by a stray bullet on New Year's, though some reports say as many as five bystanders were struck by falling lead.
Just after midnight, the 31-year-old, who regularly plays with Spam Allstars, was leaving his pad in Coconut Grove at Bird Avenue and McDonald Street, near the Home Depot, to celebrate with friends.
"I had been hearing gunshots and fireworks all night," he says. "I took two steps out the front door when something whizzed past my head and hit my hand. It felt like a rock."
Zimmerman looked down to see his hand gushing blood. He looked closer and realized a bullet was lodged in his middle finger. "It just fell out of the sky," he says. "I went straight to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital and spent my New Year's there."
He spent seven hours at the hospital and expects to meet soon with a plastic surgeon to examine his index finger. "Fortunately, it doesn't look like I have any nerve or tendon damage," he says. "The bullet went through the bone. But it's still tough because I'm not going to be able to play or work for a couple of months."
After his trip to the ER, Zimmerman went home, where he was met by Miami police. "They took a bunch of pictures, but there is not really much the police can do to trace where the bullet came from," he says. "It could have come from as far as a mile away. There is no telling where a bullet will land."
Zimmerman says the cop told him he was the fifth victim in the neighborhood. "He told me that the other calls involved people who got hit in the neck, in the hip, and in the back."