An online campaign to curb gun violence in major cities has inadvertently turned into a public safety threat of its own, sparking a social media firestorm in the process.
Called “Paintball Wars,” the challenge involves pranksters -so far in major cities like New York City, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Detroit- shooting people with paintball markers. In the Wisconsin city of Milwaukee, over sixty-five incidents have been reported in a five-day time span.
“This isn’t something that’s new throughout the country,” MPD Sgt. Melissa Franckowiak said. “It’s just new to Milwaukee.”
Like many stupid things, the social media campaign is believed to have been started by a rapper, namely the Atlanta-based artist known as 21 Savage.
“It’s a Facebook challenge,” Franckowiak said. “They see it. It’s just kind of going throughout the city.”
According to the New York Daily News, the campaign was based on the premise of trading real guns for paintball markers.
Unfortunately, however, paintballs can still injure -and even kill- if used improperly, and using a paintball on someone who doesn’t want to be hit could land you with felony charges.
Even worse, with a country of lawfully-armed citizens, pulling anything resembling a weapon and assaulting someone may result in the paintballer being shot.
A licensed gun owner could suspect “you’re robbing them or something like that” and shoot, Franckowiak warned.
Aside from lawfully-armed gun owners, unlawfully-armed individuals may seek lethal force in retaliation for being splattered.
This, of course, is what police believed happened to North Carolinian Zyquarius Shalom Quadre Bradley, who was found fatally shot next to a paint-soaked car in Greensboro.
Another incident -taking place in Georgia- resulted in fifteen-year-old Christopher Cullins shooting at the teens who marked him with paintballs, resulting in a three-year-old bystander being killed.
Cullins’ victim was the child of a friend of 21 Savage, who paid for the funeral.
In Detroit, police fielded roughly 95 calls about paintball shootings during the last week of April.