El Paso County Sheriff's Office trying to get ahead of social media trend, teens shooting 'water bead guns'

Colorado aids nationwide investigation into TikTok and its impact on young people
Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 09:56:05-04

EL PASO COUNTY — The El Paso County Sheriff's Office issued a statement on Tuesday, voicing concerns about people "shot and injured" by "water bead guns" in the Falcon area.

The Sheriff's Office did not give an exact number of cases, or kids involved, but they believe the incidents stem from a trend circulating on social media involving "Orbeez", or any other brand of small, water-filled balls.

"The concealed carry holder or the law enforcement officer is not going to be able to determine in a split second whether that gun is real or a toy," says Sergeant Jason Garrett.

If you open the TikTok app and search "Orbeez challenge", you will mostly find videos of kids playing with the water-filled balls after they have been frozen.

However, if you search "Orbeez Blaster" instead, a string of videos of people, mostly teenagers, shooting realistic-looking guns filled with gel pellets will appear, which is what the Sheriff's office is referring to.

EPSO says even though this is not a problem affecting the majority of people in the county, they want to get ahead of the issue.

Part of the agency's concern is that a child could be carrying a "water bead gun" and law enforcement could mistake it for a deadly weapon.

"The worst case scenario is... You leave your house one day to go pull this prank, and you pull one of these types of weapons on someone who is actually armed, and the result of that could be catastrophic for you and we just don't want to see that happen," says Garrett.

Robert Crouse, a Psychotherapist in Colorado Springs, says social media has allowed peer pressure to branch far beyond the reach of most parents.

"The influence isn't just the small little pocket of Colorado Springs, it's around the world and so when you talk about being influenced, it's not just my little hometown or whatever, it's worldwide."

EPSO says those held responsible for these incidents which result in serious injury could face "felony-level charges".


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