Chicago police say they made six arrests after responding to a call of a group of males shooting at people with paintball guns.
The arrests were in the Tenth District, where seven paintball gun attacks from Thursday night to Friday night injured seven people. One of those injured was a man who lost an eye.
Officers showed off a small cache of paintball weapons that they said were seized after the arrests.
“There’s nothing fun about this,” said Deputy Police Chief Ernesto Cato, CBS 2 Chicago reported. “Let’s be clear about this. My heart goes out to these individuals just standing on the bus stop. The person who lost his eye yesterday, we take this very serious.”
Chris Trani described what happen when he was shot with a paintball gun, the station reported.
“Someone yelling, ‘Hey man!’ Then I looked over and they started shooting me in the face,” he said.
Chicago police are dealing with a surge in paintball gun attacks, which they describe as a disturbing new trend.
There have been 208 paintball shootings in September and October, Fox 32 Chicago reports. In the first eight months of 2020 there were only 42 such shootings.
But police weren’t saying what they believe is behind the increase.
“It’s something that has increased, but I want to put the word out there right now: We are focused on this. We’re going to treat these paint guns like they’re regular guns, like they’re shooting real bullets and today was a great effort by the officers in the 10th District,” Cato said, according to the station
Alderman Ray Lopez told the station he believes boredom is driving the paintball gun attacks.
“The casualty of these paintball war games are the residents who are just trying to live peacefully despite the maelstrom swirling around them, with COVID and everything else. This is unneeded stupidity,” Lopez said.
“The fact that it’s across demographic,s crossing age groups, shows me it’s individuals with access to these paintball guns and an over-abundance of free time,” he said. “Especially if they see other people doing it, they get the idea they can play urban commando.”