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Multiple students and families in Bayshore neighborhood shot at by gel BB’s

Anchorage School District believes incidents are tied to a TikTok challenge
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 9:48 AM AKDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 4:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - South Anchorage residents around the Bayshore community were disrupted Friday when reports of a truck being driven by teenagers with a BB gun began circulating.

“All of a sudden, I felt a couple little things hit me,” resident Chris Jacobson recalled. “You know, one back here, one on the shoulder, and I was like, ‘What was that?’”

Jacobson’s wife, Fran, soon noticed they were being shot at.

“I looked over as soon as he said, ‘Ow, something hit me,’” Fran described. “I looked over and there was a dark truck just going right by us, window rolled down, teenage kid, and he had like a ... you could tell it was not like a real gun, but holding it like this and just smiling and pointing it out the window.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Anchorage School District said there have been two separate incidents involving gel balls being shot at people “on or near school grounds” over the last week. Superintendent Deena Bishop wrote the district believes these events are linked to the recent TikTok Orbeez Challenge, which encourages people to shoot soft-gel, Orbeez balls at citizens with a gel-ball blaster or an airsoft gun.”

The Jacobsons weren’t the only victims of the truck’s riders on Friday. The same vehicle reportedly went around the neighborhood near Mears Middle School and targeted kids walking home from class.

“They shot at us, and then after that, I got hit in the back of the head, ear, and the eye and the nose,” said Patrick Gothot, a Mears student.

Gothot said after being struck the first time, the truck turned around and started heading back toward he and his friend.

“We were like, looking back all the time like, keep checking behind us and he was like, I don’t know if they are going to come back,’” Gothot recalled. “We saw them coming up so we started running and when they were shooting at us, me and him put our hands up and ducked behind the snow bank.”

The Anchorage Police Department said officers responded to the area around Bayshore Elementary School at 3:40 p.m. Friday after receiving reports of “juveniles who had been shot with a BB gun.” Police said none of the people they talked to reported injuries or being in fear of the reported attacks.

Police also said the weapon used was a “brightly colored toy gun that shot gel BB’s,” and that none of the victims believed it was a real gun.

The district sent its press release about the TikTok challenge a day after it sent out a memo Monday to families with students that attend Bayshore Elementary School and Mears Middle School, explaining that the Anchorage Police Department is investigating the incidents.

“It involved juveniles and a toy gun. No arrests have been made at this time,” the memo read. “As the investigation continues, you may see or hear of additional police around our schools. Please know that this investigation is isolated, and it is safe for your students to continue to attend school in-person.”

The district also told parents that the safety and wellbeing of their students is the top priority. It also acknowledged false online reports and asked the community to report any information they may have to police at their non-emergency line at 311.

As of Tuesday morning, the police department said no charges have been filed and the suspects are still outstanding.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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