Columbia police on the look out for firework violators

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia Police responded to sounds Tuesday night that can be often confused with gun fire.

While the fourth of July is just days away, some people in Columbia seem to be celebrating early by shooting off fireworks.

However, within Columbia city limits, as well as Jefferson City and most Mid-Missouri cities, shooting or possessing fireworks is illegal.

Police told ABC 17 News, East campus and other highly populated student areas are the popular places to find people shooting off fireworks.

The hardest part though about arresting and giving out tickets regarding fireworks is it often turns into the blame game.

On Tuesday, ABC 17's Heather Hourigan rode along with Columbia Police Officer Spirit Stevens.

The first firework call of the night was in East Campus.

A group of guys were in the lawn where several recently lit fireworks littered their lawn.

Immediately the men began blaming other people for the fireworks.

According to a Columbia ordinance shooting and possessing fireworks can be a fine of anywhere from $1 to $500, or even three months in jail!

Since January 2013, there have been 31 firework arrests and that does not include arrests from this week.

However, patrolling the streets and finding the ones responsible for setting off the fireworks can be challenging.

"They shoot them and then they run away, so by the time we get to the scene there is nobody there. Sometimes there is debris or we see a lot of people around, but we don't know who did it. You can't arrest everybody for it," said Stevens.

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