Despite police warnings against celebrating the New Year with guns, stray bullets across the South wounded at least two people and killed one boy.  In tourist-conscious Florida, the wounding of a 6-year-old Italian visitor who was dining at a swank Miami restaurant stirred international worries, as the incident made headlines across Europe.

In Georgia, 4-year-old Marquel Peters died after he was hit by a bullet that crashed through the roof of the Church of God of Prophecy near Decatur.  In Effingham County, Georgia, William Haymans was asleep in his bed when a .50-caliber bullet slammed through the roof of his mobile home and hit him in the right leg.

Miami rallied to show some love to Andrea Fregoneses, who was hit in the chest by a bullet that lodged near his heart as he dined with his parents at Mai Tardi in the city’s Design District. Mayor Tomás Regalado and Police Chief Miguel Exposito brought toys to his bedside.  Community leaders offered the family a free apartment while Andrea recovered.  Mai Tardi and other restaurants offered free food.  Tourism officials said they didn’t think the incident would hurt Miami’s image.

Tattoo you and you and … A Chattooga County, Georgia, couple was arrested for tattooing six of their children.  The couple reportedly tattooed themselves and the children using a plastic pen body with a needle made from a guitar string connected to an electric motor. The biological mother of two of the children complained to authorities that their tattoos wouldn’t wash off.

PETA spreads its art: Government officials in Louisville, Kentucky, are considering an appeal by PETA for a permit to erect a 5 1/2-foot statue of a crippled chicken as part of its protest against KFC.  PETA says the Department of Codes and Regulations denied a permit.  Department officials say PETA didn’t pay the $25 application fee or provide a map of where it wants to put the statue.  Meanwhile, in Nashville, Tennessee, PETA planned to protest the treatment of circus animals by putting one of its members dressed as an elephant wearing a bloody head bandage outside Buena Vista Elementary School.

Changing parties no party: Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith’s switch from Democrat to Republican has cost him most of his staff.  Among those resigning were chief of staff Sharon Wheeler, spokesman Sean Magers and several legislative aides.  Wheeler said in a resignation statement that Griffith had “abandoned the legacy” of conservative Democratic leadership in the region from former lawmakers such as Bud Cramer and Howell Heflin.

McMaster lands another one: South Carolina Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Henry McMaster said Monday that Oklahoma’s Drew Edmondson became the 14th state attorney general and first Democrat to join McMaster’s efforts to fight the “Cornhusker Kickback,” McMaster’s latest name for the Medicaid deal offered Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson for his vote on the U.S. Senate health care reform bill.

Dew Droplets: Retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist Furman Bisher is now writing a column for the Albany Herald … Extended cold weather could kill Florida’s growing iguana population, which many residents see as a good thing … Disgraced former Mississippi prosecutor and judge Bobby DeLaughter, of Ghosts of Mississippi fame, began serving a prison sentence for lying to the FBI … A Speedwell, Tennessee, woman suspected of shooting her husband was arrested for DUI while taking him to the hospital … The Georgia Department of Transportation is awaiting matching funds needed soon to secure federal money for development of a high-speed rail system between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.