A group of teenagers attacked a young boy in Peachtree City, Georgia, recently by shooting him with a gel-pellet gun, resulting in injuries to his face and body, police said.
The assault was reportedly a part of a new TikTok social media "challenge."
"We continue to see teenagers utilizing the cart path while discharging splat ball guns (Orbeez) at other people on the cart path, even at innocent bystanders," the Peachtree City Police Department said in a Facebook post last week. "Now they are modifying the beads to be more painful."
The department included photos of the boy in its post that showed his face bloodied by the impact of at least one of the gel pellets. Police added that the boy was riding his bicycle on the cart path when he was assaulted without provocation.
According to NEXSTAR, similar random attacks have been happening across the country in recent weeks as teenagers on TikTok take part in the new trend.
The #OrbeezChallenge apparently dares teens to fill gel-ball guns or airsoft guns with the circular Orbeez water beads and fire them at strangers.
In some cases, the teens have been freezing the beads to make them more painful, the New York Post reported. In other cases, challengers have been caught firing at moving vehicles.
Videos of the challenge on TikTok reportedly show teens laughing as they fire the pellets with their friends.
But the nation's police are reportedly cracking down on the trend and warning would-be participants that harassing innocent bystanders and, in some cases, injuring them is no laughing matter.
The 19-year-old who fired at the delivery driver in Florida reportedly also shot another random adult and a 10-year-old child in the face and chest. In return, he was charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle, child abuse, and two counts of battery, authorities said.
In their Facebook post, Peachtree police warned that people caught firing the weapons at others on city property would face harsh penalties, including potential felony charges. The department added that parents could also be held liable for the actions of their kids.
In a statement to NPR, Spin Master, the company that makes Orbeez, said children's product safety is "paramount" and that it "does not manufacture or sell gel guns."
"Orbeez are designed for educational, creative, and sensory play and are not intended to be used as projectiles or inserted in mechanisms," the company continued.
Dangerous social media trend: Police warning public of new ‘Orbeez challenge’ www.youtube.com