A group of Dallas youth took the concept of freedom a little too on the Fourth of July. That's because they decided to use their fireworks to attack a photojournalist as well as police when both showed up at a local apartment complex, injuring the photojournalist and damaging the news vehicle. And it was all caught on video.
"Once I got there, I noticed it was just basically a war zone going on," WFAA-TV photojournalist Robert Flagg told his station.
"The missiles — or whatever they were — they were hitting, they were bouncing off my chest and off my camera," Flagg added. "One hit me in the back, and it burned my neck and it burned my shirt."
"Those officers that arrived were being shot at by fireworks," Dallas police spokesman Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse told WFAA. "In fact, one officer who was actually hit by a bottle rocket in the arm. Once enough officers got there, the crowd dispersed."
As for those involved, they will face charges for injuring Flagg and his news vehicle.
"That's considered aggravated assault, and it will be filed as that and will be investigated to its fullest, and hopefully we can find out who actually did it," Janse explained.
But the "assault" in Dallas isn't the only instance of fireworks being used as weapons this Fourth of July. In Peoria, IL, a similar incident took place when a mob at another housing complex turned their illegal fireworks display into an attack on police and firefighters:
[vimeo_embed http://player.vimeo.com/video/26038973?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0 expand=1]
Emergency responders on the 4th of July from Journal Star on Vimeo.
The Peoria Journal Star reports the crowd fired "mortar"-like fireworks, hitting their targets multiple times and even causing one police officer to lose some of his hearing:
Police at that point began ordering the crowds to disperse, and firefighters hosed down the live fireworks and smoldering remnants of spent shells. That’s when mortar-type fireworks began firing toward and exploding near the officers and firefighters. Some people also hurled bottles and rocks, according to police.
At least three shells exploded on the engine, causing burn marks, and one hit a firefighter in the shoulder, charring his heat-resistant gear and temporarily initiating hearing loss. Division Chief Gary Van Voorhis said Tuesday the firefighter declined medical attention at the scene and remained on duty.
One of the first responding police officers also suffered some hearing loss and sought treatment at a local hospital later in the night, according to Peoria police Capt. Mike Scally, who also was the event commander for the riverfront fireworks display.
“Every officer that responded said pretty much the same thing — that it was chaotic and like a riot,” Doug Burgess, the Peoria police public information officer, said. “Every officer received bruises and burn marks.”
Police fired about 200 pepper balls to disperse the crowd and then left, as they feared for their safety.