When did it become fun to load up your buds in Mom and Dad’s un-Tesla and drive around looking to pop unsuspecting elders, bag-hampered shoppers, and others generally not like you with guns designed to shoot balls or beads great distances?
Some have suggested the current “prank” leaving welts on unsuspecting victims is an offshoot of the “Assassins” game – a generally innocent and non-violent game of tag where college-age players earned points by “killing” others in often-comical ways while staying alive until the end of the game.
Collegiate assassins could “kill” an opponent by poisoning the watery chicken noodle soup they got at the school cafeteria with a jolt of tabasco – if you could prove you got to your designated opponent, you got the “kill.”
After the game was around a while it drifted down to the high school level, with younger brothers and sisters revising the rules and putting their own spin on it, often forming teams, dressing in camouflage, and turning to Airsoft and paintball guns to leave their mark and confirm their hits. Scrimmages or hunts were conducted on friendly school campuses with care taken not to involve innocent civilians.
But around 2015/16 the game seems to have morphed again, with players maneuvering in squads and creeping through neighborhoods in order to ambush unsuspecting classmates. We first became aware of it when a frantic San Ramon woman called police with a report of an armed group, wearing masks and carrying rifles, in the bushes across from her home.
Police later released her call to them, after they had geared up and moved into the neighborhood prepared for some form of armed confrontation – but getting a hooded high schooler who didn’t think anyone could see him or his rifle.
Officers, most of them dads themselves and aware of how such a confrontation could go wrong, turned the incident into a learning moment and tried to get the word out that it was not smart to bring a realistic-looking M-16 into a neighborhood at night.
Lately, however, there seems to have been a resurgence in the use of “non-lethal” arms to snipe at innocent civilians.
Reports of generally high school age youths shooting at people or wildlife with Airsoft or paintball guns – most often from moving cars – have been coming in from around the 24/680 in recent weeks. Injuries are running from a nasty welt to spattered clothing but, beyond that, people are concerned about another police and shooter encounter.
Morgan Hill police say they arrested a 17-year-old local youth for allegedly firing gel beads at people as they were walking in Morgan Hill Thursday. Officers said the projectiles were fired from a moving vehicle. One of the victims was struck on the back of the head, a second was struck on the arm. The injuries did not require medical attention, police said, and a Splat-R-Ball “gun” was found in the backseat of the suspect vehicle.
The unnamed youth was transported to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall on charges of discharging a BB device in a grossly negligent manner.