CINCINNATI — Patrick Molloy stepped onto the curb outside his College Hill home in the first minutes of Tuesday morning to shout “Happy New Year!” to his neighbors.
Gunshots answered. Seconds later, a bullet struck him in the leg. The porch light, when he reached it, revealed a swollen wound he judged to be "about as big as an egg and about three-quarters of an inch tall."
Still, the 77-year-old said as he recovered Tuesday evening, he considered himself lucky. The shots, which he believes were fired to celebrate the new year, could have hit something much more critical: His head, his torso or another person.
"If you believe in guardian angels, I must have had one there," he said. "It ended up being fairly minor. It sure felt like it was major when it happened.”
Similar incidents have injured and killed people less fortunate than Molloy. One celebratory bullet struck Texas state Rep. Armando Martinez in the head in 2017, forcing him to undergo emergency brain surgery.
Like Molloy, he said he had just stepped outside when it happened.
With these episodes in mind, police departments across the United States spent the week before the holiday attempting to discourage gun owners from firing into the air at midnight.
“The intention may be a celebratory shot toward the sky, but the consequences of that moment can be disastrous for a neighbor or someone blocks away, causing injury or death,” the Cleveland Police Department wrote in a statement.
Molloy suggested an alternative celebration.
“Buy some blanks,” he advised. “Do something other than firing a bullet in the air. It goes up and then comes down.”