Girl hit by celebratory New Year’s gunfire dies

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BALTIMORE — A 10-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet fired in the air during New Year’s Eve celebrations died Thursday as a result of her injuries, the Cecil County, Md., Sheriff’s Office said.

The girl, identified by police as Aaliyah Boyer, of Manheim, Pa., had been in critical condition on life support at A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington.

Cecil County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Holmes said Boyer was standing in the yard of a relative’s home in Elkton, watching neighbors set off fireworks, when she suddenly collapsed. A bullet of unknown caliber had struck her on the top of her head, Holmes said.

Investigators do not know where the bullet came from and have no suspects. Neighbors have told authorities they heard a lot of fireworks and gunshots at about midnight, about the time the girl was struck.

“It’s our belief that celebratory gunfire caused a wound to the head,” Holmes said.

Detectives continue to look for leads for a suspect.

“It’s being treated as a homicide investigation now,” Holmes said.

Such incidents of “celebratory gunfire” causing injury or death are not uncommon in the United States, according to Joseph Vince, director of Mount St. Mary’s University’s criminal justice program and a former chief of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ crime gun analysis branch.

“This is a plague in the United States, especially on New Year’s Eve. There are so many people who are shot or killed because people fire their firearms into the air. If you fire a projectile into the air, it’s going to come down,” Vince said.