updated 1/5/2007 10:25:47 PM ET 2007-01-06T03:25:47

One woman discovered on New Year's Eve that her bra could do more than lift and support when the impact of a bullet was blunted by the bra strap on her left shoulder.

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Debbie Bingham, 46, an Atlanta resident visiting family in St. Petersburg, said her gold-colored bra slowed the bullet during the holiday celebrations.

Her injury might have been much more severe had it not been for her bra strap, said George Kajtsa, spokesman for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Bingham says she was outside with her daughter and son, ringing in the New Year and viewing the local fireworks display, when she felt a sharp pain in her left shoulder at 11:40 p.m.

Bingham's daughter, Solanda Bingham, 30, was first to notice the blood seeping through her mother's white shirt.

"We were sitting at the picnic table and listening to music and my mom said, 'Ow,'" the daughter said.

The daughter said she looked over and saw the blood and shouted "My mother's been shot. My mother's been shot."

Someone had fired a gun into the air and as the .45-caliber bullet fell back to earth, Bingham was struck. Kajtsa described the wound as a "big scratch with bruising."

Bingham was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she was given five stitches. The bullet was piercing the bra strap. It was only removed when doctors intervened and cut the bullet from the strap.

St. Petersburg police are still searching for the shooter to determine if Bingham was the target of the gunfire or if she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kajtsa said.

Shooting a weapon inside the city limits is a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail, Kajtsa said.

As for Bingham, she said she is just thankful for her bra.

"It was a very cheap bra. It wasn't very expensive, and I'd love to have a couple more of those bras," she told WTSP-TV.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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