CRANBERRY TWP — Celebratory gunfire marking the new year is no joking matter as three people found out this week.
Cranberry Township police on Tuesday filed felony and other charges against the trio for firing a pistol and shotgun into the air and ground Jan. 1 in the Fernway neighborhood.
Several rounds from both guns, police said, ended up hitting two nearby houses. Both homes were occupied but no one was hurt.
“Luckily,” police Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said Wednesday.
Charged in the case are Rachel A. Sherd, 28, of Cranberry Township; Lucinda R. Vincent, 34, of Finleyville, Washington County; and Christopher N. Nemit, 29, of Pittsburgh.
Police began investigating at 12:04 a.m. Jan. 1 when they got the first call. Moments later, they got a second call.
The callers reported their homes on Sherwood Drive and Lincolnshire Drive had been hit by gunfire.
Those homes are in back of Sherd’s house on Robinhood Drive, a fairly densely populated residential neighborhood where police traced the shooting. Sherd was hosting a New Year’s Eve party there.
Mascellino said police believe the defendants went outside into Sherd’s yard and fired a .40-caliber pistol and a 12-gauge pump shotgun.
Police allege Nemit, who owns the guns, shot both firearms into the ground.
Sherd allegedly fired the shotgun and Vincent allegedly fired the pistol into the air. Some of the rounds hit the other houses.
Some of the stray shots entered the houses through the walls and windows. At least one slug dropped down through the roof and ceiling of one of the homes.
Alcohol possibly was a factor in the careless shooting, Mascellino said.
“Total, there were four to six people, including children, in the houses,” Mascellino said. “They were up and getting ready to go to sleep.”
Sherd and Vincent are charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, a felony. Nemit is charged with conspiracy to discharge a firearm into an occupied structure, also a felony.
Additionally, all three defendants are charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors.
“They have been cooperative with the investigation,” Mascellino said of the suspects.
He said the case should serve to discourage people from celebrating with gunfire.
“There are safer ways to celebrate,” he said.