Several kids shot with gel balls in Gilbert as part of ‘Orbeez Challenge’
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Gilbert Police say they’ve received 11 calls for service due to the ‘Orbeez Challenge,’ which is gaining popularity on social media. The challenge has teenagers shooting gel balls, or Orbeez, at younger kids.
“The car pulls up, and he stops, and the windows are rolled down, and these kids are shooting us with Orbeez guns, and my friend is ducking behind me,” said 10-year-old Autumn White. “They froze them, so they were like, they felt harder, almost like a BB pellet thing.”
Autumn says she and her friend Claire Gunn were riding their bikes around the neighborhood when they were shot at. Claire was hit in the head, and Autumn had welts on her chest and shoulders. “She started crying, and then I almost did because it just scared us more than it hurt,” Claire said. The girls told their moms, who then called the Gilbert Police Department. “It seems silly because it’s not a dangerous weapon. It’s just the fact that our kids are scared,” said Kelly White, Autumn’s mom.
White says more than anything; she wants consequences for the people taking part in the challenge. “I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to take this more seriously,” White said. White said she’s heard of at least 20 families who have fallen victim to the Orbeez Challenge. “You’ll just hear parents saying, ‘My kid was just out playing, and someone drove by and shot them,’ whether they’re in a car, golf cart, or on a bike themselves,” said Kelli Gunn, Claire’s mom. “I think more and more parents whose children it’s happened to are becoming more alarmed because nothing’s being done to stop it.”
Both White and Gunn said they’d seen Orbeez around for years; they’re typically a sensory toy for younger children that grow when put in water. They’re shocked they’re now being weaponized. “When they’re frozen into a ball with water, it’s like shooting you with ice cubes,” said Gunn.
The Gilbert Police Department encourages parents to report all similar incidents to their non-emergency line at 480-503-6500, and ask that they remind their children that behavior associated with this challenge is dangerous, illegal, and might be punishable under Arizona law.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.