Police north of Toronto warn of ‘dangerous social media trend,’ 14-year-old boy charged

A new “challenge” is creeping up on social media and police in York Region are warning of the very serious consequences that could follow if you choose to take part.

It’s called the “Orbeez Challenge,” named after the popular kids’ toy which features hundreds of superabsorbent polymer balls that expand in water.

According to police, the challenge encourages individuals to shoot the beads at unsuspecting strangers with an air-powered rifle, which they say can cause serious injury.

“Firing gel pellet guns can cause serious injury and suspects will be charged with serious offences, including assault with a weapon,” police said in a news release issued Tuesday.

At least one teenager has already been charged with two counts of assault with a weapon following incidents related to the challenge.

In both instances, police said the 14-year-old suspect, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pulled up on a group of students in Vaughan earlier this month and fired the gel pellets at them.

At least three minor injuries were reported between both incidents.

Investigators went on to say that the challenge itself is not only dangerous to the victims.

They said the perpetrators are also putting themselves at risk due to the fact that the air-powered rifles are painted to look like real firearms “in many instances.”

Because officers who respond to weapons calls often have to make “quick decisions” on whether a weapon is real or not, police said an individual who takes part in the challenge could face “significant consequences” beyond criminal charges.

Anyone with information related to the viral trend is asked to contact York Regional Police #4 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7441, or Crime Stoppers. 

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