Dangerous toy gun trend affecting LaGrange, other communities

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 9:08 PM EDT
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LAGRANGE, Ga. (WTVM) - There is a new, dangerous trend several kids in our area are involved in.

Kids are using ‘splat-ball’ guns, similar to paintball guns just not as impactful, to scare bystanders. Some have even painted the toy gun black to make them look more realistic.

LaGrange police said there have been four incidents involving these types of splat-guns in the past five days.

Two juveniles, one 17-year-old and one parent have been arrested this weekend due to involvement in the trend.

LaGrange Lieutenant Mark Cavender said that kids need to beware because you never know if your target has a weapon to protect themselves.

The toy guns are causing heightened frustration and disruption in many communities nationwide. It all started on social media, where young people videoed friends, scaring unsuspecting people with the realistic looking toy guns.

Cavender said water bb’s, sometimes frozen, are being shot out of the guns.

“Some of them are being shot in the chest, face, whatever,” Lt. Cavender said. “At 90 to 200 feet per second, they do hurt somewhat when you get hit with them.” he explained.

According to authorities, kids are painting over the toys original bright color. Juveniles between the age of 12 and 15 are the main people taking to this dangerous trend.

In one particular case, LaGrange police were called to the main road. This past week, people were describing a juvenile carrying an assault rifle.

“Thankfully in that case, the juvenile followed commands given by officers, laying the weapon down. There were no injuries. However, it could have been tragically different if the juvenile had decided to point the weapon at the officers, whatever the case may be,” Cavender said.

Eufaula Police Chief Steve Watkins said they are taking this ‘trend’ very seriously.

Just one year ago, someone was arrested for painting the barrel of a real gun orange to make it look like a toy gun. Watkins added that in the past week he has been made aware of several incidents where kids are modifying toy guns.

“In the incidents this past weekend and the week before, most probably are using toy weapons, but our contention is there are places people have painted real guns to look like toy guns,” Watkins said. “An officer, if they get called to some of these calls, especially if it’s dark, it can turn dangerous really quick,” Watkins told us.

Cavender suggests that kids should use the splat-ball guns strictly in safe environments equipped with both face and body protection.

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