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Busch Gardens parkgoer struck by celebratory gunfire, police say

A man visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay was injured by celebratory gunfire Wednesday.

According to Tampa police, Scott Deel of Florahome, Florida was walking inside the theme park with his wife when he felt pain in his shoulder around 10 p.m. His wife then noticed he was bleeding.

Investigators said the source of the pain was a bullet, most likely a result of celebratory gunfire from outside the park, but they are unsure where. It occurred around the same time fireworks were set off at Busch Gardens.

The park's security responded, and gave him first aid. Tampa firefighters transported the 36-year-old to Tampa General Hospital afterwards with non-life threatening injuries.

Busch Gardens released a statement saying they were working with Tampa police during the investigation.

"The guest was transported to Tampa General Hospital and is in stable condition. We are working closely with the Tampa Police Department on this incident as the safety of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's guests, team members and animals in our care is always our top priority."

Two other celebratory gunfire incidents occurred in Tampa last night, police said. A 61-year-old woman who lives in Knollwood Manor Apartments near Sligh Avenue and 30th Street North reported a hole in her ceiling. She said there was also a projectile on her bedroom floor.
There were no injuries and police said they don't believe she was a target of a crime. The incident was reported around 11 p.m.

One of her neighbors knows how much worse that situation could have ended.

"Luckily the lady wasn't home and she's all right," said Michael Bryant, adding his young children were home and could have been hurt if the bullet fell through his ceiling. "If it was one of my children and they were watching TV and the next thing you know, I come in, I see my child laid out on the ground -- that's just a tragedy. If anything, it's like, be more respectful of people's houses and them being in there, their safety and their lives."

In the 9000 block of North 27th Street, a 39-year-old victim noticed a hole in the windshield of her parked car around 7:45 p.m. A bullet was located on the driver's-side floorboard. There were no injuries, police said.

"I'm amazed. I am. I mean, what stupidity. Who would do such a thing?" said Jean Goodman, who lives nearby.

Ballistic experts say a bullet can travel anywhere between two to five miles after it is shot into the sky. Ever year -- at least twice a year -- law enforcement reminds people of how dangerous and illegal celebratory gunfire is.

In 2015, a 20-year-old woman who was visiting Busch Gardens on New Year's Eve was hit the leg by a bullet suspected to be from celebratory gunfire, officials said at the time.