Huntington Beach Police warn of online trend creating real-life trouble for juveniles, victims
A recent online trend — which appears to encourage people to shoot at random strangers with water pellet guns — is creating real-life havoc in Huntington Beach, where one local minor was recently cited for battery, according to police.
The city’s public affairs manager, Jennifer Carey confirmed Monday the Huntington Beach Police Department has received 56 calls for service this year related to incidents in which individuals have fired water pellet guns at unsuspecting strangers and pedestrians, usually from inside a passing vehicle.
“These incidents are occurring predominantly in our downtown area or other areas where people tend to congregate, like Bella Terra and shopping centers, things like that,” Carey said Monday.
Huntington Beach police said in a release Monday TikTok videos referencing an “Orbeez Challenge” have been posted to social media, showing some users firing gel balls at other individuals.
Huntington Beach police have issued four citations to juveniles in connection with three separate incidents this year, the most recent occurring earlier this month, according to Carey.
Those cited must appear in court before a judge, who ultimately decides the severity of the case and decides on a fine. Should an incident involve other unlawful behaviors, punishments could escalate further, police said in a release Monday.
“This activity could result in misdemeanor, and possibly felony, criminal charges, depending on the level of injury sustained by the victim,” the release stated. “It could also lead to civil litigation for injury to person(s) and/or damage to private property.”
Orbeez pellets are small gel-like beads that can be incorporated into many different play activities. But a series of “gel ball blaster” guns created by other manufacturers and equipped to shoot such pellets are being advertised online.
In some of the Huntington Beach cases, shooters have frozen the beads in advance, intensifying the effect and creating what police say could be harmful projectiles.
“This has the potential to really harm somebody,” Carey said. “There are a lot of opportunities for something like this to go wrong.”
Although some local Orbeez shootings have resulted in injuries, Carey said Monday many of those targeted are reluctant to file a report or be named as victims, which precludes law enforcement officers from investigating incidents or apprehending suspects.
Police encourage parents to talk to their children about the consequences of partaking in any trends like the “Orbeez Challenge” and the criminal charges such activities could incur.
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