A local teacher is recovering from a gunshot wound that she said came from celebratory gunfire just after midnight on New Year’s Day.
Deirdre Tunsil tells Action News Jax that a bullet came under her window air conditioning unit and struck her in the leg.
“All of a sudden, there was this piercing pain in my thigh, my right thigh,” said Tunsil. “And I said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been shot.’”
Tunsil said she’d been hearing gunshots all evening and decided to take cover in bed just in case. Minutes before, she’d been sitting by the window near where the bullet came through.
“If I had stayed there two more minutes, it would have hit me in the head or chest,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
The third-grade teacher at the North Florida Educational Institute said she hopes to be back in the classroom next week, which is when school starts again.
Meanwhile, she still has the hospital band on her wrist, and she still walks with a cane.
The bullet is even still lodged inside her leg. She hopes to have it removed soon.
Tunsil said that a lot of her students live in her Westside neighborhood, and she is just happy that none of them were victims.
“I just reflected on that day and I’m like, ‘Lord, I’m so glad it was me and not a child,’” she said.
Florida lawmakers have tried to restrict celebratory gunfire.
The state’s backyard gun range measure restricted the recreational discharge of a gun within residential areas where there is at least one home per acre.
That means you don’t have to hit anything to be held responsible under the law.
“It has to be an almost be an on-view occurrence,” said Action News Jax law & safety expert Dale Carson. “The officer is driving through the neighborhood, and he observes someone shooting a rifle into the air in his presence. He can arrest for that.”
Carson said the punishment is up to one year in jail.
However, if someone is hit, Carson said felony charges of attempted murder are possible.
“It is murder, if you ask me,” said Tunsil. “It’s just no way to celebrate.”