An expert told the Charlotte Observer the bullet could have traveled several miles before hitting Brandon Yam in the head. Louis DuChene, a former ammunition company employee who works at a Cornelius, N.C., shooting range, told the Charlotte Observer bullets from handguns fired into the air at a 45-degree angle can travel 1.5 miles, while rifle bullets can come down 6 miles from where they were fired.
Yam's family said he was hit just before 9:30 p.m. on Friday. He had been selling food at the temple opening, helped by his wife and two of their children.
Chenda Yam Wilson, Yam's sister, said Monday that doctors were waiting to remove the bullet because her brother's head was so swollen. Yam remained in intensive care.
"He has a headache. Memories are down, movement is down. They really don't know what's going on," Wilson said. "He's in stable condition but instead of going forward, he's kind of taking a step back."
Investigators do not believe Yam was targeted, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said.
"At this time it appears that it was not an intentional shooting but that someone had fired a celebration shot into the air," a police spokeswoman, Jessica Wallin, said.
Charlotte Councilman Kenny Smith said officials will determine if penalties for discharging firearms should be stronger. Currently, firing a shot within the city limits is a misdemeanor.
"We tend to look at policies whenever tragic events like this occur to make sure we have the right policy in place," he said.