MIDDLETOWN – Three teenagers have been charged by Middletown police after they were caught participating in a social media challenge. The offenders and their accomplices were caught on Friday, March 18th.
In the afternoon hours of Friday, March 18, 2022, the Middletown Police Department assigned multiple personnel to patrol the vicinity of Middletown High School after receiving complaints that juveniles were driving around the area firing air guns containing water beads as part of the widely publicized “Orbeez Challenge” from TikTok.
At approximately 2:35 PM, Middletown Police Detectives Fred Slanovec and Ahmed Artola conducted a vehicle stop of a red Toyota Corolla sedan, after observing two subjects hanging out the passenger side window of the vehicle firing Orbeez guns into a group of nearby pedestrians. Fortunately, no pedestrians were injured during the incident.
While interviewing the occupants of the vehicle, the driver was identified as Dvonte Barnett, 18, of the City of Middletown. Barnett was subsequently placed under arrest and charged with endangering the welfare of a child for permitting his passengers to engage in the Orbeez challenge, thereby placing themselves and other juveniles at risk of injury.
The two passengers observed firing the Orbeez guns were found to both be 16 years of age but were charged with disorderly conduct for their role in the incident.
The remaining two passengers were also found to be juveniles, and they were transported to police headquarters and released to their parents.
Barnett and the two juveniles were booked and processed on their respective charges and released on appearance tickets for future court appearances in Middletown City Court.
“This incident highlights the danger that is posed by the Orbeez challenge, as individuals can be seriously injured as a result of being struck by water beads discharged at high velocity,” said Middletown Bureau Commander of Operations Lieutenant Jeffry R. Thoelen.
According to police, there have been several reports where individuals are freezing the water beads, making them hard and exponentially more damaging. blinding eye injuries, puncture wounds, dents to vehicles, and broken windshields are all possible from water beads discharged out of an Orbeez gun.
The City of Middletown Police Department according to Thoelen, is working closely with the Middletown Enlarged City School District and other community partners to bring awareness to this dangerous social media trend. “We encourage parents to take an active role in preventing incidents by speaking with their children and educating them about the many dangers associated with the misuse of Orbeez guns and water beads.”
Anyone having information about individuals engaging in dangerous activity associated with the Orbeez Challenge is encouraged to contact the Middletown Police Department at 845-343-3151. Reports can also be made to the School Resource Officer at your child’s respective school. All phone calls and tips will be kept confidential. Individuals found to be engaging in this behavior will be prosecuted and held criminally responsible for their actions.