SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — The latest social media challenge is here and it’s already causing a nightmare in neighborhoods in the city and suburbs.
Syracuse police warn, that they’re taking the Orbeez challenge seriously as unsuspecting victims are getting blasted with gel or water pellets, that hurt and can cause serious injury.
“They’re shooting them at people, animals, and cars and this is something we’ve received numerous complaints and calls,” Lieutenant Matt Malinowski with the Syracuse Police Department said.
“Kids have shot these Orbeez while they’re driving with the window down, where they’re hitting their house, so I think neighborhoods and the community is frustrated,” director of mayor’s office to reduce gun violence, Lateef Johnson-Kinsey said.
Nina Purhenn, fitness director is one of those frustrated citizens. Purhenn says she stopped at a traffic light on Syracuse’s south side, windows down, music on, when two teens pulled up next to her aiming what she thought was a squirt gun, right at her.
“I look right at them and said, ‘Come on,’ I’m thinking they’re going to shoot me with water, right,” Purhenn said. “It kind of sounds like a pellet gun and I’m, like, ‘Oh my God, and it’s hitting me in the head, aiming straight at my head.'”
She found out how painful the projectiles are when frozen.
“It hurt, I had a little welt on my ear. Hit me in the head a couple of times,” Purhenn said. “I think they’re just doing it to have fun but you’re not doing it to strangers, unexpectedly and then shoot at somebody in the head that’s not funny.”
Kids who are partaking in this challenge may think what they’re doing is harmless, but not all of these blasters look like toys.
Malinowski says that to him, it looks real. There is nothing to indicate that it is a toy with no orange tip, it makes a sound, so it puts law enforcement in a very challenging position, he says.
Syracuse Police warn they’ll bring criminal charges against anyone caught firing gel beads at another person. And parents here’s your challenge:
“So parents, give your kids an alternative, so I don’t believe in playing with toy guns, give them an alternative, like the pool, the city pools are open, and there’s plenty of water there,” Johnson-Kinsey said. “If you have to buy one of these guns for the kids, you need to supervise them, you need to be with them.”
Purhenn wants parents to be aware of the trend, too, and help stop teens from hurting someone else.