Nearly a dozen people have been shot with water bead pellets in Loudoun County, Virginia, in recent weeks, authorities say, and the attacks could be connected to a new TikTok trend.
One girl was riding her bike in the area of Belmont Ridge Road and Meridian Hill Drive in Ashburn on Saturday when someone going by in a grey, four-door sedan fired a splatter gun at her, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said. She had minor injuries.
In two other recent incidents, the sheriff's office said teens reported that other teens shot them with Orbeez pellet guns. They also had minor injuries.
Posts on TikTok using #OrbeezChallenge show people shooting the balls at others with plastic guns, also called splatter guns. Orbeez is a company that makes the tiny, gel-like beads.
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Although the beads don't usually cause serious injury, the tiny gel-like balls can pack a punch when shot from the toy guns, authorities say.
"They go like 200 feet per second. So, they actually travel pretty fast and they can hurt ya," Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman said.
Chapman said the sheriff's office is investigating nearly a dozen splatter gun assaults.
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"People shot, we've had property shot, cars shot, homes shot -- so it's kind of been all over there board," Chapman said.
Chapman said authorities don't yet know if the attacks are related to the challenge, but they aren't ruling it out.
"You want to make sure that the parents know exactly what these can do and provide the appropriate supervision if you decide to purchase these for your children," Chapman said.
Similar shootings have occurred throughout the area, including an Arlington couple who told News4 they were shot with paintballs while walking in Pentagon City.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office has identified some juvenile suspects involved in the splatter gun shootings, but the victims chose not to press charges, Chapman said.