The “Water Wars” game high school students play using realistic looking guns lying in wait or chasing down their friends in Ripon could result in injury or death when they are mistaken by homeowners as being a real threat.
Ripon Police officer Danny Sauer warns that those toy weapons can easily be mistaken as the real thing in the dark and can draw fire from a homeowner fearing for his life and the lives of his family.
Sauer told of a serious incident involving the game several years ago at a home that had been the subject of an earlier burglary. The homeowner had installed a security camera and witnessed subjects on the security screen ducking behind his bushes and wearing black face masks near his car parked in the driveway. Thinking it was a real threat, he released his German Shephard and the youth ran from the dog resulting in serious bites.
The officer noted that the homeowner was completely within his rights in letting the dog out to protect his home from the perceived and realistic looking threat.
Sauer said students pay a fee to enter the game and are given the name of a fellow student who is to be targeted for elimination. The students often lie in wait in the darkness at homes, schools, businesses and churches in order to “eliminate” their targets. The involved youth have also been known to chase each other in vehicles on darkened Ripon streets. The last surviving student wins a cash prize.
The Ripon Police Department has received multiple reports of crimes in progress that have turned out to be students playing the Water Wars game. When citizens call 911, reporting a crime in progress, it prompts an immediate police response.
Sauer added that “water wars” is not a school sponsored event.
Eight years ago the same game was taking place in Manteca. It was dubbed the “Assassination Game.” At one point a motorist saw two cars of teens flashing water guns that look like replica guns at each other as they drove down a major arterial and called 911. That led to Manteca Police responding, pulling over one of the vehicles and removing the teens at gunpoint from the vehicle.
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