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Bullet that hit man New Year's Day 'fell from the sky,' LAPD says

ShootingsCrime, Law and JusticeCrimeLos Angeles Police DepartmentNew Year's DayLee Baca

A man in Highland Park was injured early New Year's Day when he was "skimmed" by what investigators believe was celebratory gunfire, Los Angeles police said.

The man was standing in the 6800 block of North Figueroa about 12:18 a.m. Wednesday when he was hit in the face by something that "fell from the sky," said LAPD Officer Gregory Baek.

"He was basically standing in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Sgt. Juan Campos of the LAPD's Northeast Station. "They believe it's more shrapnel than anything -- just skimmed, not a direct hit."

The man was taken to a hospital with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries, Baek said, noting he was last listed in stable condition.

In the days leading up to New Year's Eve, authorities across Southern California urged revelers not to fire guns into the air in celebration. At a news conference Tuesday, Los Angeles police and sheriff's officials reminded residents that firing a gun into the air is a felony punishable by prison time -- and a safety concern.

"Shooting guns to celebrate the New Year is reckless, dangerous and can be deadly," Sheriff Lee Baca said.

Information about the number of incidents involving celebratory gunfire the LAPD and Sheriff's Department responded to Wednesday were not available Thursday morning.

Baca said deputies responded to 93 such incidents within county jurisdiction last year in which two people were injured and two properties were damaged.

Fifteen years have passed since the city last saw a death related to celebratory gunfire, police said -- in 1999, a 9-year-old boy was playing in his front yard on the Fourth of July when he was fatally shot in the head.

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