HCSO warns against celebratory gunfire on first anniversary of tragedy

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 12/30/20

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is urging residents to use caution and not celebrate the new year with gunfire due to the danger posed by stray projectiles associated with it. Last year, …

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HCSO warns against celebratory gunfire on first anniversary of tragedy

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The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is urging residents to use caution and not celebrate the new year with gunfire due to the danger posed by stray projectiles associated with it. Last year, celebratory gunfire is believed to have caused the death of at least one Harris County woman, Philippa Ashford, 61, last year.

“Celebratory gunfire is irresponsible behavior that can lead to injury or the loss of an innocent life,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. “Shooting blindly into the air is a dangerous, misguided tradition. What goes up, must come down.”

Ashford was fatally struck by a stray bullet in the Laurel Oaks subdivision located in northern Harris County as she stood outside her son’s home to watch fireworks with family and neighbors. Investigators searched and canvassed the area but did not find any shell casings in the subdivision that could lead to the shooter, an HCSO press release said. They believe Ashford was possibly struck by celebratory gunfire from outside the neighborhood.

Ashford was a nurse manager at The Meninger Clinic, a mental health and addiction treatment facility. She was also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas health Science Center at Houston. Her colleagues remember her as a leader and mentor for the psychiatric and clinical team.

Ashford’s family is hoping for additional information that could lead investigators to the source of the gunfire. Anyone with information regarding her death should contact HCSO’s Homicide Division at 713-274-9100 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-8477.

Celebratory gunfire may be classified as deadly conduct, an offencse punishable by up to a $4,000 fine or up to one year of prison time.

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