Anchorage

Gel BBs have been fired at people near Anchorage schools as part of a TikTok trend, officials say

Someone shot gel-ball pellets at people who were on or near Anchorage school grounds in two incidents that appear to be tied to a TikTok trend, school officials said.

No injuries were reported, and the two incidents occurred within the last week, Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop wrote in a letter sent to parents Tuesday.

In one incident Friday, officers were called to Bayshore Elementary School area around 3:40 p.m. because teenagers drove past children walking home from school and shot at them using a BB gun, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad wrote in an email. More than one of the children had been hit by the soft-gel pellets, she said.

“Officers interviewed several juveniles; none reported being in fear,” Oistad wrote.

The gel balls were shot from a brightly colored toy gun, and the children knew the gun was not real, police said.

In Tuesday’s letter, Bishop said the school district believes the incidents are tied to TikTok’s viral Orbeez Challenge, which prompts people to shoot soft-gel Orbeez pellets at others using an airsoft or gel-blaster gun. Criminal charges and injuries have resulted from Orbeez Challenge incidents in other states recently.

Bishop said the challenge is dangerous to the public and to the individuals who are shooting the pellets because responding officers could perceive the guns as a threat.

Police are investigating the incidents, and no arrests have been made. More police will be present at and around schools, Bishop said.

“Safety remains a top priority and the District continues to work with our School Resource Officers (SROs) as the police investigation continues,” Bishop wrote. “It’s incumbent for parents to ensure their students do not bring any weapon — real, non-lethal or fake — to school grounds or on buses.”

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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