A teen lighting illegal fireworks in Newark on Tuesday lost part of his hand when the device exploded instantly, police and witnesses said.
Police patrolling the neighborhood for fireworks suppression came upon the scene moments after it happened. They saw the 18-year-old man sitting in the street, surrounded by a group of people.
"It was very traumatic at that time," Newark police Capt. Chomman Loth said. "You could imagine what a mortar round could do to a hand."
Witness Ricardo Myers said he and his family were about 100 yards away when it happened.
"We seen a lot of blood on the floor," Myers said. "Everybody put belts around his arms to try and stop the bleeding."
Myers say the man was trying to light a mortar-type firework when it suddenly went off.
"Actually, it was a dud," Myers said. "It was lit before, and it didn't explode, so when they went to go pick it up and relight it, it was so short on there that it exploded instantly."
Myers said the explosion kind of pushed the man backwards, and he had an explosive mark on his stomach.
Loth said the department had eight officers dedicated to firework suppression Tuesday night, but they can't stop everyone.
"We're not going to catch them all," he said. "But we're just trying to send a message, and any illegal fireworks we can get hopefully will prevent things like this from happening."
Newark police said they did not cite the injured man, but they did arrest and release six people Tuesday night for possession of illegal fireworks.