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Orbeez, how a toy can turn into a weapon

Locations: News Published

On May 26, the Orbeez Challenge on TikTok made its way to the Roaring Fork Valley. The challenge dares young people to use airsoft guns or “blasters” to shoot innocent bystanders with gel pellets. 

In a local case, high school students drove by Miners Park and, at least one of them, fired upon younger children with the gel blasters. A similar incident occurred in downtown Carbondale immediately afterward.

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Fortunately, a teacher was with the children at Miners Park and tended to any injuries. Officers Paul Lazo and Ciara Chacon quickly arrived at the scene and began to investigate. No further medical assistance was required.

The two vehicles reportedly involved were tracked to Roaring Fork High School (RFHS), where the police sighted airsoft guns and orbeez gels. The juveniles were identified and summoned to the front office at RFHS. 

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It was later determined that the sedan associated with the incident was the only vehicle carrying a  passenger who actually shot into the public park; and that the juveniles in the other vehicle did not fire at bystanders.

The accused juvenile was charged with six counts of menacing and third degree assault. 

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Speaking with Chief Kirk Wilson of the Carbondale Police Department, The Sopris Sun inquired how the Orbeez Challenge is affecting the Valley. 

“For the most part, what was to take place was for kids to sneak up on each other and shoot at kids participating in this,” Wilson began. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. But, to go and shoot at a bunch of kids — clearly on a field trip — is just completely unacceptable.”

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Although this juvenile was charged, the effects on the children and their families still linger. 

“There were kids there that had no idea what happened to them and there were kids that for a moment — five seconds, maybe a split second — thought they had been shot by a real gun,” Wilson said.

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With the Orbeez Challenge circulating TikTok, it’s become evident that young people can be easily influenced by online creators. Though TikTok has taken measures to remove videos and hashtags associated with these attacks, the content continues to leak through the cracks of the internet. 

Children can be seriously affected by these incidents, particularly in a nation that suffers from school shootings all too frequently. To that point, Wilson stated, “We took it very seriously that these kids were traumatized — they’re victims.”

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This is not the first time the challenge has taken place in the Valley. Brody Bowman, a Glenwood High School student, has experience with this trend. 

“They weren’t super painful, but they didn’t feel good either,” described Bowman.

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Bowman’s experience took place in April while returning from lunch to school, getting hit in the ear, side and ankle. Both he and a friend had not participated in the challenge, yet were targeted regardless.

Many young people may remember a similar challenge that circled TikTok last fall, known as “Devious Licks.” That challenge encouraged students to vandalize their schools and was just the beginning of TikTok challenges reaching, and inciting harm in the Valley. 

If you witness anything that relates to the Orbeez Challenge, contact your local police department and report the incident. 

Editor’s note: Brody Bowman is a relative of reporter Marlo Bowman. 

Tags: #Carbondale Police Department #Marlo Bowman #Orbeez Challenge
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