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Police warn about dangers of social media's 'Orbeez Challenge'

gel blaster toy guns
Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:19:34-04

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — Police are warning the public about the dangers of a challenge trending on social media where people are using gel pellets and toy guns to randomly shoot bystanders.

The Dearborn Police Department said it's responded to about 10 incidents over the past several weeks of people being shot with Orbeez balls, water-absorbent polymer beads. People participating in the “Orbeez Challenge” trending on TikTok are putting the beads into gel blaster toy guns.

Police say young people have carried out the challenge at Ford Field Park and on Warren Avenue. There have been similar incidents reported across the country including one involving a news reporter at WXYZ's sister station in Oklahoma who was also targeted.

It has local residents concerned.

“They’re going around just shooting people like a woman walking her daughter, a couple kids and a FedEx driver,” Hussein Sareini said. “I’m worried. We are always bike riding on major roads where it’s happening right now."

The Dearborn police chief says pedestrians and bystanders, along with property, become targets often captured on video. In some cases, the attacks are done by drive-by. Toy guns have also been found in schools and confiscated.

Police in Dearborn say they have a "zero-tolerance approach to activities such as this that pose danger to the public." A Dearborn teen was arrested in connection to the trend and is facing assault charges.

“We’ve been able to make two arrests as a result of an informed public that has been very mindful, and they’re reporting these incidents when they happen,” Dearborn Police Department Chief Issa Shahin told 7 Action News over phone.

Police are urging parents to warn kids about this, given the potential for severe injury. They're also encouraging parents to pay attention as dangerous trends rise in the future.

There have been no serious injuries so far as a result of the attacks in metro Detroit. Retailers are also being warned of the dangers of selling those toy guns.