Police: Paintball wars have gone too far - WNEM TV 5

Police: Paintball wars have gone too far

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Source: Grand Rapids Police Department Source: Grand Rapids Police Department
Source: Grand Rapids Police Department Source: Grand Rapids Police Department

Michigan police have joined authorities across the country who are responding to hundreds of paintball fights in recent weeks.

The Grand Rapids Police Department said since April 28 there have been 17 reported incidents involving paintball wars or paintball guns.

“Although some may view paintballing as ‘harmless,’ there are many dangers and unintentional consequences that the public should be aware of,” the department wrote on Facebook.

Police said most of the incidents involved moving vehicles whose occupants were shooting at houses, passing vehicles, or each other. Some of the incidents caused damage, most caused fear, and one even injured two riders on a moped, according to officials.

“In addition to causing injury or damage, someone shooting at others could cause a traffic accident or be mistaken for a real gun,” police said. “Some paintball guns look real, especially from a distance, and many of the reports made in the last week indicate that the victims did not initially know that the guns were paintball guns.”

Police said businesses should also be aware there have been four retail fraud reports made in the same time frame of paintball guns and paintballs being stolen.

Authorities say the increase in paintball-related incidents comes after an Atlanta rapper began posting YouTube videos encouraging people to trade real guns for paintball weapons.

It’s led authorities to paint a clear message to those involved in in the fights.  

The Grand Rapids Police Department said the Kent County Prosecutor's Office has agreed to charge those that shoot at a person who is not a willing participant in a "paintball war" with a 93-day misdemeanor.

“It is legal to possess a paintball gun, but it is best to have a paintball war in an area free of non-participants, wearing protective equipment, and where damage will not be done,” the department said.

On April 1, a three-year-old boy was killed in Dekalb County, Georgia, when a teenager shot a real gun at his attackers during a paintball fight. One of the bullets struck the boy, police said.

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