Police departments across the nation are warning people about the “Orbeez Challenge,” a recent TikTok trend they say can be very dangerous and as well as result in felony charges.
The new challenge involves loading a toy gun with gel pellets, called Orbeez, and using it to surprise attack people. Those who take part in the challenge post videos with the hashtag #OrbeezChallenge either showing themselves playing with the gel pellets or shooting them at random people.
Peachtree City Police in Georgia said they continue to respond to reports of young people firing the orbs at unsuspecting bystanders. In some cases, they are even kicking things up a notch by modifying the pellets and making them more painful.
Officials have described specific incidents where this challenge has caused painful, permanent injury.
In Volusia County, Florida, officers warned the public about a string of these attacks, which have already led to the arrest of four people.
In Deltona, Florida, a 19-year-old male was arrested after allegedly firing at an Amazon driver, striking his glasses and neck. A dash camera video of the incident shows the suspect’s car coming around the corner and slowing down before a toy gun is stuck out the window and fired.
The same man also allegedly shot two other people — a 10-year-old, struck in the face and chest, and another adult. The suspected shooter was charged with child abuse, shooting into a vehicle occupied by another person, and battery.
Both toy guns and the Orbeez being used as ammo can be purchased in the toy section of many large retailers and online.
The manufacturer of Orbeez, Spin Master, issued a statement to NPR which read, “Children’s product safety is paramount at Spin Master, and we are committed to providing children and their families with the highest quality toys, games, and activities. Spin Master does not manufacture or sell gel guns.”
Spin Master says Orbeez are educational and are to be used for sensory play, not as ammunition for toy weapons.
Those participating in the Orbeez challenge could face felony charges for causing severe injury. Authorities are urging parents to discuss with children the dangers of using Orbeez for a purpose other than intended by the manufacturer.
Police Captain Scott Allen from Winter Garden in Orlando told a local news station, “These kids think it’s funny. They’re violating the law. They’re committing a battery. If the pellet injures the person to the point, it breaks the skin, could be looking at a felony charge. These things don’t go away and could affect your future.”