SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah mother says a TikTok challenge involving toy guns led to her teen coming face-to-face with a real gun.
“It was scary. I didn’t know what to even think,” said Melanie Pollock of Salt Lake City.
Pollock said her son was eating lunch with his friends outside Highland High School in Sugar House when a car pulled up and started shooting at them with Orbeez gel pellets.
The Orbeez TikTok challenge is a viral trend where people drive by and shoot at others with Orbeez beads, or small pellets made of gel.
Pollock said one of the pellets struck the side window of her son’s friend’s car. The teens went after the vehicle to confront the shooters. The high schoolers lost the car and returned to their original spot, where the vehicle turned up again.
“My son confronted him like, ‘Hey, why are you shooting at us?’ And I guess one of them pulled a real gun on them,” she said.
She said someone in that car then shot at his friend’s vehicle with the real gun and drove off.
“Nobody wants to hear that their child got a gun in their face — a real one,” she said.
The Salt Lake City Police Department was unavailable Sunday to comment on the alleged shooting near Highland High School, but it did send a statement regarding the TikTok trend, writing, “…as we have seen before, social media “trends” can be inherently dangerous and cause significant disruptions to our community. We would encourage people to avoid such trends to avoid injury or any potential civil or criminal liability. We would encourage anyone with information about a potential crime to 801-799-3000.”
The TikTok challenge is causing concern across the state. Just days ago, an Ogden teen was shot in the eye and is facing permanent damage.
A man in Syracuse said he was biking on Saturday and was also shot at with the gun pellets.
“These guns leave pretty bad welts. There was a girl who was on a scooter ride with her family just a little after I got hit, who has a massive welt on her back, according to her parents on Facebook,” he said.
The bicyclist started a petition over the weekend to ban the challenge from the app and spread awareness so parents can educate their kids.
“I think there needs to be a level of understanding of safety and respect to other people that needs to be understood,” he said.