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Boston veteran shot by fireworks says illegal pyrotechnics are ‘terrorizing’ city

illegal pyrotechnics (Luc Viatour/WikiCommons)

A veteran who says he was shot in the chest by fireworks is calling for a greater crackdown on the pyrotechnic troublemakers “terrorizing” his neighborhood as complaints over illegal fireworks being set off across Boston continue to soar.

“It’s every night here,” South Boston resident Mark McKunes told the Herald. “They’re just terrorizing an entire neighborhood.”

McKunes, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said he was attacked by two Roman candles while trying to break up a group of people setting off fireworks near his home and car on June 18. He was forced to go to the hospital after suffering second- and third-degree burns on his chest and neck.

With concerns rising about the continued barraged of fireworks ahead of the Fourth of July, McKunes is calling for local elected officials to give police more support in wrangling the scofflaws.

“As a veteran, I always enjoy the Fourth of July. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I’m always up for celebrating it. But it has to be done safely,” McKunes said. “These folks here are not. They’re driving up and down shooting at houses, shooting at people, shooting at vehicles. They’re doing it purposefully to be a nuisance.”

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Calls to Boston police about illegal fireworks have skyrocketed over the past three months. Complaints were up 5,543% over the first 23 days of June, with Boston police logging 7,844 calls in the first three weeks of the month compared to 139 during the same time last year. The nightly bombardment prompted Mayor Martin Walsh to create an illegal fireworks task force and councilors to hold several hearings on ways to deal with the disturbances.

Any fireworks that light up the Fourth of July night sky won’t be state-sanctioned. The Department of Fire Services says it has no permits on record for public fireworks displays through the end of July with celebrations across the state canceled over coronavirus concerns. The region’s biggest show, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, was canceled in May and is being replaced by a televised concert celebration.

“We are all disappointed that public fireworks displays had to be canceled this year, but I urge everyone to keep themselves and their neighbors safe by leaving fireworks to licensed professionals,” Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said in a statement. “Fireworks accidents often result in life-altering injuries for the users and bystanders, and cause fires that leave many people homeless.”

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© 2020 the Boston Herald