Local police are warning people to watch out for the latest TikTok trend, which involves using air rifles or similar toys called gel guns to shoot people with BB-sized pellets of water called Orbeez.
Orbeez uses TikTok to market its water beads for other activities, but some have discovered the pellets can also be fired from toy guns.
WRAL-TV reported Friday night that the Apex Police Department is investigating at least four complaints of people being shot for so-called “Orbeez challenge” videos, and that they could bring criminal charges if they identify who it was. Even though videos on TikTok show the pellets aren’t painful like metal BBs or plastic AirSoft bullets might be, they can still scare and annoy people — and could cause damage if someone is hit in the eye, or falls down in surprise.
The police also are warning teens who might be tempted to partake in the challenge that they might frighten someone who then shoots back at them, but with a real gun, WRAL reported.
It’s not just Apex where the trend has been taking off, either.
In March the Johnston County Sheriff’s Department told WRAL they were investigating similar complaints at a Walmart in Clayton. And ABC 11 recently reported that police in Holly Springs are investigating incidents at some local parks, while the Raleigh Police Department responded to a complaint from a woman who said she was shot with pellets in a drive-by prank in the North Hills area.
In Georgia, Sports Illustrated reported Friday that a University of Georgia football player was arrested for using a gel gun to shoot some people on campus for a video; he reportedly said he mistook them for his friends. They turned out to be strangers, who pressed charges, SI reported.
Sometimes it’s not just for pranks, though: WRAL also reported that in Apex, a woman told police that someone shot her with an air gun in March, then robbed her when she turned around to see what had happened.
For parents who want to channel their kids into more structured activities with their gel guns, a quick online search shows many paintball courses have also begun advertising that they can be rented out for gel gun fights, too.
“The soft gellyballs bounce off kids or simply disintegrate, leaving no stain, mess or sting,” says the website for a Wilmington-area paintball course, which says the gel guns and pellets are safe for kids as young as 6.