TikTok “Orbeez Challenge” Continues – More Teens Arrested

July 7, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses, News & Announcements

TikTok has caused another incident in Florida, this time resulting in almost 25 people getting shot at. We have written about the Orbeez Challenge in the past, and it appears the trend is still ongoing with teens using the social media platform.

What started as two young boys playing a prank has turned into serious criminal charges, including a felony battery charge for shooting at someone over the age of 65. We will cover the details of the case, the dangers of TikTok challenges, and the specific statute on battery on a person over the age of 65.

What was the Incident

Ryan Quiroz and Andrew Morales, both 18-year-old, have been arrested and charged with three counts of misdemeanor battery, as well as felony battery after shooting a gel-gun at 25 people in Pembroke Pines.

According to the Pembroke Police, they received calls around 5:30 pm on June 21st, 2022. They were informed that there was a gray Chevrolet Silverado driving around Pembroke Pines and Miramar, shooting at citizens with a pellet gun.

The two boys fled the scene but were found later and apprehended by the Miramar Police. After investigating police found out the two young men were taking part in a social media trend called the “Orbeez Challenge.” The challenge involves people playfully shooting at their friends or strangers with a water-gel pellet gun.

Pembroke Pines police officer Maj. Al Xiques address the dangers of the challenge, and how even getting shot with just one pellet can hurt and cause serious injuries. “The individuals that had been shot, were shot throughout their body, and several of them were shot in the face,” Xiques said.

Police continuously warn parents to be aware of what their children are consuming on social media, and remind them that pointing any type of firearm at another person is considered a crime in Florida.

The Danger of the TikTok Challenge

While social media has many positive attributes, it is clear that TikTok can also be extremely harmful to those using it. Specifically, young children or adolescents who are easily influenced. The “hype” of a TikTok trend is the concept of virality or wanting the video you post to get liked and viewed by as many people as possible.

Gone are the days of teens wanting to move to Hollywood to become famous, because they can instantly have millions of people watching their every move via TikTok. The “monkey-see, monkey-do” mindset of teens and constantly wanting to fit in can lead to following trends such as the Orbeez Challenge.

Engaging and participating in these challenges become more ideal, especially when it seems like everyone else is doing it, too. The reality is that some of these TikTok trends can cause serious damage, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. In the instance of the Orbeez Challenge, it can also lead to criminal charges.

Further, it is important to highlight that Florida has the “stand your ground” law under Florida Statute Section 776.013. That means if a person is on their property and feels threatened, they have the ability to use a firearm to protect themselves or others. Although it did not happen with Quiroz or Morales, there could have easily been a person they shot at who had a real firearm on them. If they decided to shoot back at the two boys, they would have every right to do so if they believed they were in a life-threatening situation. As Orbeez gel guns are in the shape of a real gun, from a far distance someone may assume they could potentially die and try to protect themselves.

Battery Against a Person Over 65

Quiroz and Morales shot at around 25 people in their attempt to complete the Orbeez Challenge, with one of the victims being an elderly person over the age of 65. The boys would have only received a misdemeanor battery charge, but since there was a senior citizen shot at as well, there was an additional charge of felony battery on a person over 65-years-old.

Under Florida Statute Section 784.08, assault or battery on a person over 65 is when an individual is convicted of aggravated assault or battery on a person 65 years or older and is then sentenced to a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. The defendant will be required to pay restitution to the victim and perform up to 500 hours of community service.

In addition, if the defendant is charged with assault or battery and the victim is 65 years or older, the offense in which they were charged will be reclassified. This is regardless of whether or not the accused person knew the victim’s age. The following is a list of the reclassifications of an assault or battery charge on a person 65 or older:

  • If the original charge was for assault as a second-degree misdemeanor, it would be reclassified as a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • If the original charge was for battery as a first-degree misdemeanor, it would be reclassified as a third-degree felony.
  • If the original charge was for aggravated assault as a third-degree felony, it would be reclassified as a second-degree felony.
  • If the original charge was for aggravated battery as a second-degree felony, it would be reclassified as a first-degree felony.

Quiroz and Morales received several misdemeanor charges for the Orbeez Challenge, but one reclassified third-degree felony charge since one of the victims was over the age of 65-years-old.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, reach out to an attorney in your area. Both the young boys, in this case, were just following an online trend, but it quickly resulted in criminal charges. The best way to protect yourself if you have been arrested is to get in contact with an attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients of all ages all across Florida. We will strategize a strong defense and stay with you through the entire legal process. Don’t let one mistake ruin your future. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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