Incidents Involving TikTok Trend ‘Orbeez Challenge” Occur Across Florida
March 27, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses Social Share
The latest TikTok trend – the “Orbeez Challenge” has swept across Florida, leaving law enforcement to warn both parents and children of the seriousness behind the social media trend.
What is the Challenge?
The “Orbeez Challenge” also referred to online as the #OrbeezChallenge, constitutes teens using a gel-ball gun or airsoft gun to shoot Orbeez, which are circular water gel beads, at others. Although these air-powered guns are not real firearms, they are painted to resemble real firearms, which can undoubtedly cause apprehension. Although the gel beads are soft, they can “lead to injury and even break the skin when shot from a gun. Some teens have even been caught freezing the water gel beads to increase the impact.”
Although many videos on TikTok with the hashtag show teens laughing as they shoot their friends with Orbeez in what seems like an innocent manner, the reality of the trend is no laughing matter.
Cases Involving “Orbeez Challenge” Sweep Florida
On March 16, 18-year-old Kyle Cochran was arrested for allegedly shooting Orbeez at another driver in Collier County, hitting her above her right eye. The victim followed Cochran’s vehicle into a community. Cochran and two passengers got out of the vehicle and began running towards her. Unsure if the guns in their hands were real or fake, the victim left the community and called 911. Cochran was then arrested for shooting at her and now faces a battery charge.
Volusia County Deputies are currently investigating multiple cases involving the challenge. Sean McMullen, a 19-year-old, was arrested for using an Orbeez toy blaster gun to randomly fire the beads at people, including an Amazon delivery driver in Deltona who was hit with the beads while parked in his vehicle, as well a 10-year-old victim who was hit in the face and chest, and another adult.
Not far from Deltona in Port Orange, Zack Karstetter and his family were the victims of a similar crime. As Karstetter’s wife and 2-year-old child walked up their driveway, a vehicle raced down the road and a passenger in the vehicle shot at them with Orbeez. Neither sustained injuries, as the pellets were blocked by the cars in the driveway, however, Karstetter emphasized the seriousness of this act, stating, “had my wife turned and looked, she could have been hit in the eye, or had they come down the road faster, she wouldn’t have been covered by the vehicle.” Although no suspect was identified from the incident, three individuals in the Port Orange area are accused of shooting the beads at passersby. Volusia County Sheriff’s Office posted a video on Facebook depicting this instance, as well as others that involve the challenge as a warning to the public, as well as a warning to potential perpetrators that they are taking these crimes seriously.
Other southern states, including Georgia, have also experienced the effects of this challenge. In Peachtree City, Georgia, police warned on their Facebook that the challenge could result in felony charges, as well as parents being held liable for the actions of their kids.
Florida’s Continuous Problem with TikTok Trends
The “Orbeez Challenge” is unfortunately not the first dangerous TikTok challenge, and likely not the last. The Milk Crate Challenge, Black-Out Challenge, and Benadryl Challenge are just a few challenges that have garnished attention on TikTok and resulted in perilous consequences. Some challenges have taken it a step further, like the “Orbeez Challenge,” and have led to the arrests of participants. In the Fall of 2021, the “Devious Licks” trend, which involved students stealing or vandalizing property within their school, led to numerous criminal offenses. To read more about the “Devious Licks” trend, the public’s response, and the legal penalties the students faced, visit our blog here. Not long after the “Devious Licks” challenge faded away, the “Slap a Teacher” challenge emerged, which supposedly involved students recording themselves punching or slapping a school employee. Although many believed this challenge was just a hoax, and that it was not actually being carried out by students, the idea alone that students may partake in this was alarming enough to authorities. To read more about this challenge, visit our blog here.
Written by Sarah Kamide