ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Viral videos on the popular app TikTok show users how to load toy guns with water beads also known as Orbeez.
It’s the first step to joining the Orbeez Challenge, which encourages people to shoot the water-soaked pellets at strangers while recording.
Some people call this horseplay, but the Orange County Sheriff’s Office warns this type of activity will not be tolerated.
If you terrorize people w/ the #OrbeezChallenge, we'll arrest you.— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 5, 2022
Shooting a gel-bead gun at someone isn't a prank. It's a crime.
Not only can it cause serious injuries, it puts your life at risk.
It would only take a moment of panic for someone to fire back – w/ real bullets. pic.twitter.com/qVjdlzOEro
“If you terrorize people w/ the #OrbeezChallenge, we’ll arrest you,” the sheriff’s office said in a tweet.
OCSO has not reported any Orbeez incidents recently, but deputies in surrounding counties have made arrests.
News 6 reported an Amazon driver and family near Deltona were struck by Orbeez fired with an airsoft gun.
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In New Smyrna Beach, deputies say a 17-year-old shot a school employee in the face with an Orbeez gun.
A 16-year-old in Ocala is also facing misdemeanor charges after police said he acted as the getaway driver for two Orbeez challenge attacks.
Social media expert David Painter said this is not the first challenge that gained traction quickly.
“The tide pod challenge or the milk crate challenge and these kinds of challenges usually involved people doing things that were dangerous to themselves,” Painter said.
Unlike the ones Painter named, the Orbeez Challenge can endanger people who are not voluntarily participating.
“That’s kind of where we’re crossing the line, I’m afraid and it’s a big concern,” Painter said.
He said teenagers may think it’s OK because they have seen countless others joining in the challenge online.
“It might only sting or make a little mark on their arm, but what happens if it hits them in the eye or some other area and it could potentially cause more serious harm,” Painter said.
He said going viral is often a goal for kids and participating in challenges gives TikTok users a sense of community.
However, joining in what seems like a simple game could get participants into legal trouble.