Boy Killed By Stray Bullet While In Church With Family on New Year’s Eve

The parents of Marquel Peters, 4, probably thought that there was no more safe place than their church in Decatur, Georgia on New Year’s Eve. They were wrong. While he was playing a video game at his parent’s feet, a bullet came through the roof of the church and killed Marquel.

The parents had gone to the church to hear a concert, here.

The round was fired from an AK-47 and at first the parents did not know that Marquel was shot. Marquel’s mother, Nathalee Peters, heard a small scream and saw the boy drop his game.

It drives me crazy to see people firing guns in celebration in various countries. There has long been a debate over whether the large numbers of injuries associated with falling bullets was true. What is known is that bullets are more lethal if fired at an angle rather than straight up. However, even a bullet fired straight up (not the case in Marquel’s death), can be lethal according to many experts. One of the best explanations that I could find is from Cecil Adams at Straightdope. After looking at a famous study by General Julian Hatcher in 1962, Adams writes:

Datum 3. Still, the question isn’t how many people get injured or killed by falling bullets, it’s whether such things are possible at all. On further investigation, it appears the 60 foot-pound injury threshold cited by Hatcher may be misleading — a falling bullet’s kinetic energy (foot pounds) alone isn’t a good predictor of the speed it needs to inflict a wound. B. N. Mattoo (Journal of Forensic Sciences, 1984) has proposed an equation relating mass and bullet diameter that seems to do a better job. Experiments on cadavers and such have shown, for example, that a .38 caliber revolver bullet will perforate the skin and lodge in the underlying tissue at 191 feet per second and that triple-ought buckshot will do so at 213 feet per second.

Mattoo’s equation predicts that Hatcher’s .30 caliber bullet, which has a small diameter in relation to its weight, will perforate the skin at only 124 feet per second. It’s easy to believe such a bullet falling at 300 feet per second could kill you, especially if it struck you in the head.

The problem is terminal verocity which slows the bullet once it reaches a point where its weight equals the resistance of the air. However, most bullets are not fired perfectly straight up. Indeed mythbusters came to the same conclusion in their tests with a .50 caliber bullet:

In the case of a bullet fired at a precisely vertical angle (something extremely difficult for a human being to duplicate), the bullet would tumble, lose its spin, and fall at a much slower speed due to terminal velocity and is therefore rendered less than lethal on impact. However, if a bullet is fired upward at a non-vertical angle (a far more probable possibility), it will maintain its spin and will reach a high enough speed to be lethal on impact.

However, many of these sites including Mythbusters question the numbers of people assumed to be killed by falling bullets.

In this case, it appears likely that the bullet was fired at an angle in celebration and retained its spin and velocity — producing this horrible tragedy for the family and the loss of this beautiful child.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Boy Killed By Stray Bullet While In Church With Family on New Year’s Eve

  1. I have heard that Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It appears that this is an unfortunate incident and if the creep is ever caught that the best they they will have against them is Involuntary Manslaughter. Which is a tragedy in of itself. May the young man rest and the family find peace.

  2. Shooting off guns on New Years is very popular in the Atlanta area. Not so in the snowbelt where I grew-up (too cold) or even in DC (handguns were banned in the District). When I occupied my house in Atlanta (near the border with Decatur, the town where this happened), I found spent shells in the gutter. Just another reason I was happy to leave.

  3. Even a bullet falling at terminal velocity could be lethal depending on the size, shape, and composition of the bullet. “Falling” could cover a lot of scenarios, and there is probably an overreporting of fatalities from this cause. Nonetheless the person who fires a weapon in “celebration” is a jackass and criminal.

  4. I heard people shooting off AK-47’s here on NYE.

    Welcome to the third world.

    Just were the GOP NeoconNazis wanted you.

  5. Yea me too. I live in a rural area and NYE they were firing off guns everywhere. Yelling and whooping it up like a bunch of Jihadists or something. It never fails to amaze me how their right to own and shoot guns out classes the rights of others to not be shot in the head by one of their stray bullets. There’s nothing wrong with responsible gun ownership but we do not have responsible ownership in this country. We have gun owners who own guns because they are by their own admission “angry”. Angry at their government. Angry at the “liberals” and angry at pretty much everything other than their fellow gun owners. (why couldn’t they be angry at each other? Then they could blast each other like Elmer Fudd and problem solved)

    Hopefully someone will trace the bullet back to the owner of this AK47 and put this moron in prison for a decade or so (whatever the maximum penalty is for negligent homicide is in his state) to think about the little boy his “celebration” killed.

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