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Ogden teenager shot in eye in likely TikTok challenge

Posted at 5:55 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 19:55:35-04

OGDEN, Utah — A teenage girl is recovering after being shot in the eye by a projectile from someone driving by.

It’s believed to be yet another incident relating to a TikTok challenge, where people shoot airsoft or pellet guns at unsuspecting people.

Police and parents are worried it will end in someone getting killed.

“This is something that really angers parents when this happens, and quite frankly, you don’t mess with peoples’ kids,” said Nathan Litz, the girl's father.

Litz says his daughter is waiting to find out if she’ll have permanent eye damage after being shot in the eye Wednesday while walking from school to a friend’s house.

“She’s handling it remarkably well and recovering as best as a person in this circumstance would,” said Litz.

His daughter was shot twice: once in the back, then in the eye. She was immediately rushed to the emergency room Wednesday.

“It’s kind of a one in a million shot to hit someone dead in the eye," Litz said. "They don’t know what kind of projectile it was yet. The ophthalmologist thinks it was a steel pellet, which is kind of sickening."

And it’s happening across Utah.

In Draper, police have received seven reports of "Orbeez challenges," where people shoot small balls made of gel at people, in just three weeks.

“Obviously the part that is scariest about this trend is that they are shooting unsuspecting people and you don’t know how those people are going to respond,” said Lt. Pat Evans with the Draper Police Department.

“When they’re targeting citizens that aren’t involved in it, they run a high risk both for the people they’re targeting as well as themselves," Litz said. "The children and the parents need to put a stop to it."

It’s not the first TikTok challenge that’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

“Unfortunately, these types of events are viewed as innocuous events, of kids just playing games," Litz said. "It is aggressive harassment, and in this case, it's grievous bodily harm. I don’t think a lot of kids or parents understand the gravity of it or what could happen."

But this challenge is getting out of hand, injuring people like Litz's daughter, and it could ultimately lead to a young kid getting killed.

“A lot of people carry concealed weapons legally," Evans said. "They carry those weapons for self-protection, and if you have someone point a gun at you and you have to determine quickly if that’s a real gun or a fake gun, the consequences could be tragic."

Earlier this month, Draper Police reported that a group of kids shooting gel guns at random people ended up in a scary situation, where a pair of the victims pointed a real gun at them and punched one of them in the head.

Since posting about it on Facebook, Litz says several people have come forward saying a similar thing happened to them. He says they are working closely with Ogden Police and trying to find any surveillance video or witnesses that can help them get justice.

His daughter returned to school Friday, less than 48 hours after being injured, by her own decision. He says he’s proud of her strength through this and he’s optimistic she will make a full recovery, but it will be a long process.