Fonthill residents hear early-morning racket

The Pelham Community and Neighbourhood Watch Facebook user group was abuzz with reports of gunfire (or was it fireworks?) in the early morning of Tuesday, June 14.

One user posted, “My husband and I heard what we thought were gunshots at 3:27 AM this morning. The sound woke us both up. Six or seven shots then a pause and six or seven more. It didn’t sound like a car backfiring or firecrackers. It was similar to gun shots. It seemed to be in the area of Welland Road, between Pelham and Haist. Did anyone else hear this, or offer a logical explanation for the sound?”

Another responded, “I heard what sounded like fireworks on Effingham between Pancake and Welland Road around that time.”

Others chipped in. Most thought it was fireworks, which freaked out their pets.

Contable Phil Gavin of the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) told the Voice that police had been contacted.

“On June 14, at approximately 9:20 AM, NRPS was called by a resident of Pelham regarding a report of possible gunshots. An officer attended the residence in the area of Berkwood Place and Dogwood Court. The complainant reported to the officer that they were wakened at approximately 3:10 AM on June 14, by the sound of what they believed to be gunshots, coming from a nearby wooded area. The complainant believed they heard 15-20 shots. The officer accompanied the complainant into the wooded area to where they believed the sound came from. No evidence of gun shots was found. NRPS did not receive any other calls reporting the sound of gunshots.”

One Facebook user posted a photo of empty fireworks boxes found at the softball diamond at Harold Black Park.

So, how do you tell the difference between firearms and firecrackers?

Experts say that gunshots are very crisp, and they have a certain timing or cadence. Fireworks are loud, just like gunfire, but they are sporadic, often with a lot of crackling. Sometimes they echo and whistle.

Fireworks are usually followed by smoke; gunshots are not, since modern bullets use smokeless powder.

If you are unsure if what you hear are gunshots or fireworks, call 9-1-1 and let the police investigate.

In big American cities, where shootings are often an everyday occurrence, a new technology is assisting police identify the location of gunfire and respond quickly.

ShotSpotter is a software program that uses sensors located around the city that detect ballistic sounds, aided by GPS technology to track its exact location. Police dispatch centres are alerted within 60 seconds.

By getting an exact location soon after shots are fired, police are able to assist victims faster and begin their search for a suspect immediately.

The system is so sophisticated that it can distinguish between fireworks and gunshots, and can even identify the calibre of the gun fired. According to ShotSpotter’s website, this technology is already in use in some 90 cities, including Miami and Chicago.



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