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Journalist among 3 hit by bullets as Jamaicans ring in New Year 

At least three persons are lucky to have escaped with their lives after they were hit by stray bullets thought to have been fired illegally by persons ringing in the New Year in the early morning hours of January 1.

The three are a journalist who was hit in the chest while lying in bed, a 15-year-old girl who was hit in the forehead while she and others congregated in a churchyard after the traditional watchnight service, and a woman who was hit while on a roof in Red Hills, upper St Andrew.

Nationwide News Network reporter William Mitchell took to Twitter to announce that he was struck in the chest by a bullet that pierced his roof.

“While many were celebrating the New Year, I was being treated at hospital after a stray bullet pierced my roof and struck me in the chest,” Mitchell shared on Twitter.

“It most likely came from gun salutes. I only received very minor injuries. So, for the new year, let’s not be as senseless as last year,” Mitchell added while posing with what appears to be the warhead from the bullet.

Responding to persons who were expressing their concerns, Mitchell stressed that his injuries were minor. He said there was mostly swelling and soreness.

“Swelling mostly gone. Still a little sore but I’m counting my blessings,” he said.

“This is crazy, glad him okay,” one person tweeted.

“Wow! I know how dangerous those are. People fail to understand that if it (the bullet) has that much energy when falling to pierce a roof and ceiling tile, it is easy to pierce skull and skin same way,” another added.

Yet another Twitter user said: “Jesus wept. This is the third stray bullet story I’m seeing on my timeline. Thank God you are all alive and well”.

In the St James incident, 15-year-old Abigail Mullings, a student of Montego Bay High School was hit in the forehead by a stray bullet as she spoke with fellow worshippers in the churchyard of the Emmanuel Chapel where her father, pastor Mark Mullings, had shortly before wrapped up watchnight service.

Abigail reportedly fell to the ground and was bleeding profusely from her forehead. She was taken to the Falmouth Hospital in neighbouring Trelawny where she underwent surgery.

It is believed that she was hit by a bullet fired by persons in Mount Salem who were celebrating the dawn of the New Year. Mount Salem, St James has been the site of a Zone of Special Operation (ZOSO) for more than two years. Additionally, the parish of St James has been under a state of emergency for most of 2019.

In the third incident, Loop News has been reliably informed that a woman was hit by a bullet while she was on the roof of a Red Hills home to mark the arrival of the New Year.

The three persons were shot and injured despite warnings issued by both the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Firearm Licensing Authority for persons to desist from the illegal activity. Despite the warnings, illegal gun salutes take place in many communities across Jamaica every year as the New Year dawns. Persons have been struck by falling bullets in the past.