CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte high schooler may have been one of the latest victims of a TikTok challenge receiving attention statewide.
The “Orbeez Challenge” involves using air guns to shoot Orbeez -- gel beads that expand in water -- at people.
An Olympic High School student was one of the trend’s most recent victims.
Ana Rosa Alonso said she rushed to the school Tuesday morning after learning her daughter was shot in the eye.
Alonso’s daughter, Andrea, was starting her day at Olympic High School yesterday morning when she felt a sharp stinging in her eye. She’d been shot by a Nerf gun with an Orbeez bullet.
“(Andrea’s dad) told me someone shot Andrea on her eye. I was like, ‘What happened?’” Alonso said.
The freshman in high school had to go to the hospital, then to a specialist to be checked out.
Her eye was swelling, and she had headaches. The plastic dart she was hit with left her in real pain.
Andrea said she still has blurry vision and the light bothers her eyes.
“If not treated, it can damage the tissue of the eye, so it’s something serious,” her mother said.
This isn’t an isolated incident. A TikTok challenge is spreading the trend online.
Over the weekend, Holly Springs police investigated two reports of residents hit by BBs in their neighborhood and another at an area sports park.
Five other police agencies responded to similar incidents recently.
“We know it has happened in other states where kids use these Nerf guns, where people use these rubber bullets,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Claudio Jimenez told Channel 9.
In this case, the student who shot Andrea at Olympic High School could face serious charges.
Jimenez doesn’t know if kids know the severity of the trend.
“Don’t be doing this stuff. This stuff is stupid,” he said. “This could have serious consequences. It can be very dangerous.”
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said parents need to be responsible for their children, but companies like TikTok also need to be held accountable.
“These social media platforms have real impacts on teenagers. We’ve seen study after study that shows mental health depression, anxiety, a lot of these problems worsen the more time kids use them. And now we’re seeing with this AirSoft challenge, that kids are being hurt and the general public is being assaulted by these guns, and it’s not, it is not acceptable. And TikTok bears some responsibility,” Stein said.
TikTok said it is revamping its policies to try to keep dangerous challenges from going viral.
Alonso said now that she knows the danger firsthand, she wants to make sure the school is taking it seriously too.
“I don’t want this to happen again, and I don’t want this to happen to any other child,” she said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District told Channel 9 it was investigating the incident.
This is a developing story. Check wsoctv.com for updates.
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