Celebratory Gunfire: How a neighborhood has been forever changed after Fourth of July tragedy

Officials in the Houston area want those enjoying the Fourth of July holiday to remember one thing: There’s nothing ‘celebratory’ about open ranged gunfire.

Philippa Ashford, 61, died during a New Year’s 2020 celebration with her family after she was struck by a stray bullet in the Laurel Oaks subdivision in north Harris County.

The case has long since gone cold.

Nobody, including, investigators, knows who fired the deadly shot.

“Everyone is just kind of afraid to come outside because that bullet doesn’t have a name until it hits you,” Ashford’s longtime neighbor Janette Arceneaux said.

Kids no longer play outside at night and neighborhood get-togethers are few and far between that block.

“Usually on the street, we get together and do fireworks, but after that, it didn’t happen,” James Walker, another longtime neighbor said.

Celebratory gunfire injured two more people in the Houston area, including a toddler the following New Year’s Eve.

There are entire websites dedicated to curbing the behavior during the holidays.

This year, the Houston Police Department reminded city residents that even if nobody is hit, revelers who open fire can face up to a year behind bars and a $4,000 fine.

Other efforts include legislative attempts to make celebratory gunfire that injures or kills someone a first-degree felony in the State of Texas.

The bill was never passed, and its author has an interesting history of his own as the victim of celebratory gunfire.