A bullet buried somewhere inside her left thigh, April Johnson now has a painful souvenir of this year's Fourth of July.
The 26-year-old woman was struck by a stray bullet on her thigh while sitting outdoors watching Fourth of July fireworks.
Her 1-year-old nephew was sitting on her other leg.
"I just got hit with something so hard, I jumped up," Johnson recalled on Friday. "I screamed, 'I was shot!' And my brother said it was just fireworks. I was, 'No, I was shot.'"
The stray bullet fell from the sky about 9 p.m. Thursday while Johnson was attending a family get-together at her brother's house in the 200 block of Northwest 28th Avenue, an unincorporated part of Broward near Fort Lauderdale.
Johnson said she felt a burning pain on her thigh, which quickly began to bleed. Her brother laid her down and wrapped a belt around her leg.
"I kept screaming, 'It burns! It burns!'" she said. "I was worried about my nephew. I don't want to think what would've happened if the bullet landed on the other leg."
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue took Johnson to Broward Health Medical Center, where doctors confirmed she suffered a gunshot wound, the Sheriff's Office said.
Doctors did not remove the bullet, instead telling Johnson to schedule a follow-up visit with her doctor.
"They told me removing the bullet would cause more damage than when it went in," she said.
On Friday, Johnson was back at her Fort Lauderdale apartment, hobbling on crutches and recovering from her freak wound. She said getting together with her family on the Fourth of July and on New Year's Eve has always been a longtime tradition. She said she plans to continue the tradition, but with a twist.
"I am staying inside," Johnson said. "I'll be in the hallway praying until it ends."
The Sheriff's Office said there are no known witnesses to the shooting. Finding out who fired the shot may prove difficult given how far a stray bullet could travel from its source.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a bullet fired into the air falls at about 200 feet per second or faster -- enough to pierce a human skull. A bullet fired straight up can travel about 3,100 feet before falling, and farther if shot at an angle.
BSO officials said Thursday's incident is the reason authorities repeatedly warn revelers not to fire any weapons.
"This is exactly what we always warn against-- people celebrating by firing their guns into the air," Coleman-Wright said. "Those bullets come down just as fast as they go up, and the last thing you want is for someone to be injured or killed by a stray bullet."
Authorities urge anyone with information about the shooting to call Broward Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.
Staff Writer Erika Pesantes contributed to this report.
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