Bang, Bang, Bang: were they firecrackers or gunshots | Way of life

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The following post was originally published in July 2011. Some of those interviewed have retired or have changed jobs since the posting of the post.

Many Eastsiders have asked this question as the upcoming July 4 vacation promises to deliver the annual barrage of fireworks with occasional bursts of gunfire or at least what looks like gunfire. Police ask residents to call 911 when they hear gunshots. But it can get confusing when your neighborhood is filled with the sounds of bombs bursting in the air during the 4th of July celebrations (don’t forget to keep the animals inside).

How do you know if that popping sound in the block is an M-80 firecracker, a 9mm semi-automatic or a 12 gauge shotgun? The Eastsider asked people familiar with the sounds of the season to tell the difference.

Captain Bill Murphy, LAPD Northeast Division:

“Some fireworks are faster – think firecrackers, very fast and random – as opposed to gunshots, which can be a consistent sound. Firing with a 9MM will produce the same sound for every shot. Plus, some fireworks can be very loud and a single explosion (think a large rocket). They also have a sound associated with launching before the explosion (crackling sound of wick / fuse lighting). that helps a bit. “


Sally Fernandez, spokesperson for Safety Dynamics, a manufacturer of gunshot recognition systems:

“Let me just say that in general the sound signatures of firecrackers and small arms – like a 9mm or a 22 – are very, very similar. That being said, it is very difficult to distinguish between the two with normal ear. use a variety of technologies to reduce this confusion. Police departments, if they receive a shot alert, are able to see video of what caused the shot (i.e. the person or vehicle it came from). ) or hear the shot. This helps them to reduce the confusion between the two events. Unfortunately, the average person only has ears. “







Fireworks on Laveta Terrace at Echo Park

Fireworks on Laveta Terrace, Echo Park, in 2019




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Senior Senior Officer Albert Polehonki, LAPD Northeast Division:

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference for us too. My best explanation is that the shots are usually heard in a separate sequence, or in a regular pattern, sometimes fast or slow depending on how fast the shooter is pressing. the trigger. Firecrackers usually don’t. There is no motive, especially when an entire pack is lit. “

Darin Williams, Owner of Select Patrol *

“In most cases when I hear gunshots it is more often than not a volley of several shots fired in quick succession and not very hard.”


Lieutenant Wes Buhrmester, LAPD Rampart Division

“Most fireworks can be classified as high-pitched and low-volume, like firecrackers, or booming, like in a small explosion (M80 and others). Additionally, most fireworks do a flash, if one looks at the sky or the horizon. The shots are audibly more defined, and on July 4th or New Year’s Eve, often follow one another, as these shots are often made in a “festive” way. “Of course, if in doubt, call the police and we’ll check.”

Fireworks display in Highland Park made by our neighbors from approximately 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. on July 4th


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