What started out as another (dumb) TikTok challenge has morphed into several dangerous situations with real guns and cops.
Over the last month, the “Orbeez Challenge” has gone viral on TikTok, especially with Gen Z. It’s essentially a game that requires firing orbeez, or gelatinous pellets, at others, using toy guns or even airsoft rifles. They’re mostly harmless, although one 10-year-old in Peachtree, Georgia, suffered a bloody nose. A teacher in Florida reportedly had one briefly lodged up her nose, too.
Police say some TikTokers are also taking the opportunity to fire at complete strangers—and they’re threatening arrests.
“This is not a game! OPD will arrest you for shooting these gel beads at unsuspecting people,” one warning from the Ocala Police Department in Florida said in a Facebook post. “Parents, please talk to your children about the dangers of this type of activity.”
“Although an ‘Orbeez’ gun is not considered a deadly weapon, but firing it at an individual is a crime and individuals can and will be held responsible,” a post from the New Smyrna Beach Police Department, also in Florida reads. “Parents, do not allow your children to participate in such activities.”
The orbeez guns can also easily be confused for real one—like in the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland back in 2014.
One Texas high school went into full lockdown after police received reports of an armed individual on the premises on the morning of March 25. After nearly three hours, however, Royse City Police Department officers concluded that there was no active shooter. Instead, witnesses had seen a teen with an airsoft gun participating in the trendy #OrbeezChallenge.
In another instance, a group of Highland, Utah teens say someone fired a real gun at them after initially shooting them with orbeez. As the teens walked over to confront who they thought was a prankster participating in the challenge, they said the individual pulled an actual firearm on them and fired. No one was injured in the incident and police have not been able to find the person who allegedly fired at them.
A number of teenagers have already been arrested and charged for participating in the challenge, according to several news local outlets.
A 19-year-old in Clearwater, Florida, who drove the car in a series of orbeez drive-by shootings, was slapped with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. And he plans to fight it.
“I’m gonna kind of make this a big deal in court, and somewhat fight it,” he told WFLA. “I got arrested for playing with something you can literally buy at Walmart at 12 years old. It’s a toy. It says right on the box it’s a toy.”
Four days earlier, a 17-year-old in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, was charged with felony battery after he fired orbeez from a toy gun at a school faculty member—the one who had to blow it out of her nose.
The new challenge has been triggering for local law enforcement. One sheriff’s department took the opportunity to remind everyone that it’s “NEVER okay to SHOOT at ANYONE with ANYTHING.”
Oh, the irony.
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