Central Florida police warn about dangerous ‘Orbeez Challenge’ social media trend

Challenge encourages people to shoot strangers with Orbeez water beads, police say

OCALA, Fla. – Ocala police put out a warning on Facebook about a potentially dangerous social media challenge called the “Orbeez Challenge.”

According to police, the challenge encourages people to shoot strangers with Orbeez water beads.

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“These beads can cause serious injury when fired from an air-powered gun,” the Facebook post reads. “In many instances, these air guns are painted to resemble real functioning firearms.”

Ocala police said they have received several reports of people being shot by Orbeez guns.

Ocala police display an air gun painted to look like a realistic firearm (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Other police departments are experiencing similar reports of people being shot with Orbeez as part of this social media trend.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported a 19-year-old, Sean McMullen, was arrested after shooting an Amazon delivery driver in Deltona with Orbeez. Deputies said the victim was hit in the glasses and neck while driving his route. Investigators said McMullen also shot another adult and 10-year-old child, who was hit in the face and chest.

McMullen faces charges of shooting into an occupied vehicle, child abuse and 2 counts of battery.

Deputies said on the same day the 19-year-old was arrested, two more people shot at Wes Crile Park in Deltona were hit by pellets fired from a van that took off after the shooting. Additionally, investigators said a man trimming trees outside a Deltona home was shot in the back, breaking the skin and leaving the man with red welts.

Investigators said he reported the same van that shot at the victims at Wes Crile Park. Deputies said they were able to track down the van and charged an 18-year-old, Diego Medina Vega, and two 17-year-olds with battery. Medina Vega was additionally charged with 2 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Sean McMullen and Diego Medina Vega (Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies said there was also an incident Monday at Dewey O. Boster Park in Deltona where two groups of juveniles were shooting Orbeez at each other from their vehicles. Investigators said one of the vehicles ended up crashing into a pole.

New Smyrna Beach police have also received reports of children shooting people with Orbeez guns. Officers said they found children with several of the guns along Flagler Avenue.

“Although an ‘Orbeez’ gun is not considered a deadly weapon, but firing it at an individual is a CRIME and individuals can and will be held responsible. Parents, do not allow your children to participate in such activity,” police posted on online.

Fernandina beach police say there were two incidents downtown, according to News 6 partner WJXT.

Police said no one was hurt, but all of the people involved were identified and released to their parents.

According to police in Peachtree City, Georgia, a boy was shot with those water beads by a group of teenagers. He has bruises on his face and arm.

Although the beads are not meant to be harmful, if they hit someone, they can cause serious injuries. Officers are warning that shooting people with these beads can be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.