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D.A., cops warn revelers against celebration shootings

Don't be a fool: Pumping bullets into the air on New Year's Eve is illegal, could put you in the slammer and could get someone killed.

D.A. Abraham: Says that violators will be prosecuted
D.A. Abraham: Says that violators will be prosecutedRead moreFile photo

Don't be a fool: Pumping bullets into the air on New Year's Eve is illegal, could put you in the slammer and could get someone killed.

That's the annual reminder being sent out to the public by the city's top brass and by one victim of New Year's Eve stupidity who doesn't want what happened to him to happen to others.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham and Police Chief Inspector Anthony DiLacqua are expected to make this announcement at a news conference today in the D.A.'s building with victim Joe Jaskolka, who was 11 when he was struck in the head by a bullet in South Philadelphia nine years ago.

Jaskolka, now 20, remains in a wheelchair.

The bullet is still lodged in his head.

"People who shoot guns off into the air to 'celebrate' New Year's Eve will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Abraham and DiLacqua said in a news release Friday.

"There will be zero tolerance for people shooting firearms into the air in so-called celebration of New Year's Eve."

Jaskolka, of North Wilmington, was visiting his grandmother's house on Moyamensing Avenue in South Philadelphia on New Year's Eve 1998.

About 12:05 a.m. Jan. 1, 1999, he and other family members were walking on Fernon Street near Second and heading to see the fireworks at Penn's Landing when a bullet struck him in the head.

Authorities said that someone shooting a "celebratory" bullet in the air to ring in the new year fired that near-fatal shot.

The shooter was never found.

Since that day, Jaskolka has undergone about 25 surgeries, including about 10 on his brain and a couple on his eyes, he said by phone Friday.

He recently spent three days in the hospital for pain in his side, he said.

Referring to the gun violence tormenting the city, including the shooting death of Police Officer Chuck Cassidy, Jaskolka said:

"The city is in turmoil and they need the state's help with making the city safer, and it's not being done."

Cassidy, 54, was shot in a West Oak Lane Dunkin' Donuts on Oct. 31. He died the next day.

"People just think it's a game, and it's not," said Jaskolka, now a sophomore at Delaware Technical & Community College.

He has a perfect grade-point average, the D.A.'s office noted, and aims to be a doctor specializing in sports medicine.

"I'm not about taking guns away from people," he said.

"If there are law-abiding citizens who live in the city, if you choose to own a gun, then keep it locked up safely and don't let some other person go and take the gun, and go and kill someone."

He added: "Hopefully, Mr. Nutter [the incoming mayor] can do something about this epidemic."

Authorities said that through Dec. 22, 1,668 people had been shot this year, an average of 33 people per week.

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2006, 2,004 people were shot.

Since 1998, city police have arrested more than 150 people for New Year's Eve weapons violations. *