An Arlington, Virginia, couple is sharing details of a paintball attack on a busy street, a frightening experience that’s shaken their sense of security.
A routine walk home from the the grocery store at about 7:30 p.m. Friday suddenly turned to terror for Lana and Pat Beard. They were hit repeatedly in what turned out to be the first of two attacks Friday near the intersection of 15th and South Eads streets in the Pentagon City area, leaving them battered and bruised.
"Just all of a sudden, he felt something hit his chest, and I felt something hit my ear, and we were confused, and then we just kept hearing really loud, like, banging sounds, like, constant," Lana Beard said.
Pat Beard initially thought it was gunfire, then realized they were being struck by paintballs, with yellow paint splattering everywhere.
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"I looked down for a second, to be like, 'Am I bleeding?' because I didn't know what was going on," he said. "It was probably like a couple of minutes after that my heart finally calmed down and I realized, it's not gunfire, it's just paintballs, but it really hurt."
Photos that Lana Beard posted on Facebook show their injuries: at least 30 welts and bruises, on their arms and legs, on Lana’s face and ear.
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"My ear and my face right here are really worst the spots, and my knee," she said.
The couple says their attackers first started firing at them from a car that was stopped at a red light at 15th and South Eads streets. Then the attackers turned right and kept shooting as the couple tried to take cover behind a van in a parking lot of an apartment building on the corner.
They ran into the building, and residents helped them to safety. Police were called to the scene.
About 90 minutes later, a second attack happened just across the street.
Two more people were struck, although they were not together. One victim went to the hospital for treatment of injuries; the other stayed on scene and called police.
Pat Beard says he thinks the paintball shooters might have been motivated by social media.
"It seems like there are these social media trends where people are doing this, and it's been happening for a long time, and it's sick," he said.
The couple is hopeful that Arlington police will find the shooters, who were in a silver, older-model four-door sedan.
While the Beards' bruises are healing, the real damage is far more lasting.
"Their 30 seconds of fun shooting us has really taken away our security being on the street," Pat Beard said. "Just something as simple as walking here to this interview, there's anxiety with that, and we love this community. It's just tough."
The Beards say that in spite of the terrible experience with the paintball shooters, they were heartened by the way the apartment building residents treated them afterwards: giving them water, towels to clean up the paint, and hugs to reassure them.