PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 29, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Joe Jaskolka, whose life almost ended from celebratory gun fire, today reminded Philadelphians to celebrate safely and not fire their weapons in the air this New Year’s Eve.
“What goes up, must come down, so be responsible this New Year’s Eve and do not shoot your gun in the air as you ring in 2017,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “If you are caught firing your weapon into the air, you could be charged with Recklessly Endangering Another Person and receive several years in prison. If the bullet hits and hurts someone, you could be charged with Aggravated Assault, Attempted Murder or even Murder.”
On Dec. 31, 1998, Joe Jaskolka was struck in the head by a bullet that was fired in “celebration” while he was walking in South Philadelphia. Joe, who was only 11-years-old at the time, still has the bullet lodged in his head and the person who fired the gun has never been caught. As a result of his injury, Joe is paralyzed on the right side of his body and can’t use the left-side of his vocal chords. He is now 29-years-old and has undergone 33 surgeries to his brain and 21 surgeries to his eyes. The Jaskolka family estimates that insurers have paid more than $15 million dollars to cover the cost of his surgeries.
“Celebratory gunfire is never a celebration for the family of a loved one lost or for a person struck by this reckless gunfire on New Year’s Eve,” said Commissioner Richard Ross. “There is zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we will arrest those committing these types of acts; we want people to ring in the New Year in a responsible, fun, and safe manner.”
The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) received 132 reports of gunshots fired between 10 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2015 and 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2016. On an average, the PPD receives about ten reports of gunshots fired each night.