In the wake of a handful of students being detained at gunpoint earlier this week by Manteca Police while playing the “Senior Assassination” game, the Manteca Unified School District is sending a clear message to students.
If you’re caught playing any element of the game on a Manteca Unified campus, it could lead to not being allowed to participate in the annual graduation ceremony later this year.
On Thursday afternoon, the Manteca Police released a statement on the City of Manteca’s Facebook page detailing an incident on Monday where officers responded to a reported armed robbery in progress and detained as many as six suspects at gunpoint at the Mission Ridge shopping center. It wasn’t until they searched the suspects and then interviewed them that they realized that they were playing a “game.”
“The safety and security of our students and our staff are our number one priority,” said Manteca Unified Director of Secondary Education Clara Schmiedt. “As such any students caught participating in ‘Senior Assassination’ on any Manteca Unified school campus will be disciplined accordingly.
“This activity can lead to dangerous and unsafe situations as evidenced by various schools around the valley. Discipline may lead to the student being prohibited from participating in the graduation ceremony.”
And according to Manteca Police Department Sergeant Mike Aguilar, it isn’t the first time that officers have had a run-in with students who have taken the game – where participants have to “assassinate” their target with a Nerf gun or a water gun – too far.
When Aguilar was a Watch Commander two years ago, he dealt with an issue where two vehicles were chasing one another down Yosemite Avenue. When officers responded, and conducted a high-risk traffic stop – ordering the driver and the passengers out of the two vehicles at gunpoint – they finally learned what was really going on.
“We’ve had complaints from people that have watched cars pull up and block in other cars at intersections, and that somebody is about to be hurt or killed and those are the types of calls that we get,” Aguilar said. “In that respect, it’s not harmless fun because we respond to these calls as they come in and don’t find out until later what is actually happening.
“And then there’s the issue of pulling all of our resources over to these calls and that means that somebody that needs help won’t be able to get it if they call. It’s something that these students need to take into consideration.”
Other the last few years the number of on-campus incidents have all up but disappeared according to Manteca High School Principal Frank Gonzalez, who believes that social media has given students a chance to take the frowned-upon game underground and away from campus where students know if they get caught participating they will be disciplined.
Last month Manteca High sent a letter home with all seniors letting them and their parents know that those who are caught engaging on the campus itself will be disciplined accordingly. Gonzalez said that there isn’t a standard punishment, but noted that it’s up to the individual school sites based on the severity of the infraction.
According to the release from Manteca PD, there have been a number of reports of “armed individuals and car chases” associated with the game over the last several years, and a recent traffic collision at an area high school as directly related to students participating in the game.
While the mistaken weapon element is enough for Aguilar to urge caution to those who might wish to engage in the activity, the driving element, he said, opens a completely different can of worms.
“We’ve literally had vehicles chasing one another through traffic, and as we know when drivers get that tunnel vision and focus in on the car they’re following they aren’t seeing what is going around them – pedestrians stepping out into the street or vehicles that are stopping,” he said. “It becomes dangerous for not just the people involved in the game, but innocent people who have nothing to do with it. That’s something that should be considered.”
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