Married off-duty NYPD detectives and their toddler came within inches of being hit by a stray bullet Monday night, authorities say.
Detective Stephanie Eil says she and her husband were driving on the Bronx River Parkway, heading home from a Fourth of July party, when they heard a loud bang.
Eil says they first thought it was the sound of fireworks. It turned out to be a bullet that pierced their car door. The detective says that car door essentially served as a bulletproof vest, protecting her family. Her 2-year-old son was in a car seat in the back and Eil was driving. She says the bullet nearly came right through her window.
"You don’t expect it on your day off," Eiel said.
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
She didn't even notice the bullet lodged in her car until the next morning.
"This is what we’ve come to – this is what the streets are delivering to us, it's dangerous unless we fix these gun laws," Eil said.
After a terrible start to the year, the city's gun problem has improved, and shooting incidents for the first half of 2022 were actually down 12% versus 2021. But abrupt spasms of violence, particularly over weekends, still plague the five boroughs.
At least 21 people were shot, three of them killed, in a wave of citywide violence on July 4. It came the same day a gunman opened fire on a parade in an Illinois suburb, killing six people and wounding dozens as they marched on Independence Day.
New York City was among at least a dozen major U.S. cities plagued by the scourge of gun violence over the holiday weekend. Mayor Eric Adams has rolled out more targeted policing strategies and called on Albany to take action on bail reform, though plenty say bail reform hardly addresses the entirety of what is clearly a multi-faceted problem.
Paul DiGiacomo of the NYPD Detectives Endowment Association says the city should appoint a special firearms prosecutor to target gun-related violence and crimes.
"Gun violence is out of control," DiGiacomo said.
As for the shooting that nearly wounded the NYPD couple, police are investigating the circumstances of that, whether it was celebratory gunfire to mark Independence Day -- it erupted around the time fireworks were going off -- or a different sort of motivation.
Either way, Eil says her guard is now up, even on her days off.
"These moments kind of taint our safety and it's not just us," she said. "Everyone is seeing it."