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Late-night fireworks puts Pueblo combat vet on edge

Pueblo Fireworks put combat vet on...

PUEBLO, Colo. - Kenneth Harper's hands shake steadily as he thinks about the sound from last weekend's fireworks.

It still makes him uneasy.

“Kind of just makes me unsettled, nervous, shaking, rapid heartbeat,” said Harper. 

Harper is an Army combat veteran who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, he lives in Pueblo with his mother.

Saturday, a party just fifty yards away from his home started lighting large fireworks off in his neighborhood. 

Due to Harper's PTSD, the explosions sent him mentally back to the front lines. 

“I get switched back into that mode," said Harper. "Kind of like taking a time machine, boom, and you're back there.”

Harper says the loud explosions causes him to black out. He fears that the noise will trigger a violent reaction, and fears for the safety of his mother, himself, as well as others.

After the barrage, Harper called Pueblo Police and told them the situation with the fireworks as well as himself. 

“They were warned not to do it again, and they assured police it’s not going to happen again," said Harper. "Two hours later, around 10 p.m., another full barrage [of fireworks].”

In Pueblo, it is illegal to ignite fireworks into the air unless you are associated with the city. However, fireworks are only allowed for the public on the 4th of July between 7 a.m. and midnight.

When called out to a scene for fireworks, Pueblo police say they aim to educate the public first before issuing citations.

“If we deal with the same people multiple times, then we start responding with citations," said Sgt. Frank Ortega. "We’ll get to the location as soon as we can. It’s just a matter of time, of when we can get to it, because it is lower priority.”

Harper just wants people to understand these explosives have more of an impact than they know. 

“Fourth of July fireworks are fine, I’m prepared for the 4th," said Harper. "Being this far away from the 4th of July with such big artillery, it’s uncalled for.”


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