SALINAS, Calif. - If a firework makes a loud boom and shoots up into the sky, they're illegal and sometimes as loud as gunshots. That's the concern for residents in an East Salinas neighborhood, as a homicide investigation continues.
On Thursday night we found out how often fireworks are mistaken for gunshots. Police said illegal fireworks are often mistaken for gunshots. But in the case of last week's shooting on Acosta Plaza, residents made an uncommon assumption and the victim didn't get any help before he died.
"We're hearing it almost every shift at night," said Salinas Fire Capt. John Wider.
Wider said illegal fireworks cause a lot of confusion and calls for service.
"And they're all illegal, you can tell the difference because they explode," Wider said.
The sound of illegal fireworks are an issue in East Salinas. Last Thursday night, police found 25-year-old Arthur Bravo dead near this apartment complex on Acosta Plaza. Witnesses weren't able to tell officers when gunshots rang out last Thursday because of all the noise.
"That's the first time in my career that I've actually seen a situation where there was gunfire in the middle of a fireworks display," said Salinas Police Commander Sheldon Bryan.
Though that type of confusion is uncommon, police said it's an unfortunate because illegal fireworks are so prevalent.
"It masked the cover of the gunfire based on the witnesses and it did cause a considerable amount of confusion there for a while," Bryan said.
Crews said they shouldn't be hearing any fireworks at night because they're not legally sold in Salinas until June 28. The fire department said any fireworks that don't have the safe and sane seal, are illegal.
"Usually they're the sparkling and they don't cause explosions and they're all ground based," Wider said.
Safe and sane fireworks also aren't as loud as the illegal ones.
"They can be much louder than a gunshot. I mean there's fireworks out there that'll shake your house," Bryan said.
Police and fire crews said they start patrolling for illegal fireworks two weeks before the July 4th and will continue until two weeks after the holiday. If you're caught with illegal fireworks, you could face steep fines or be arrested.