It’s a game that dates back decades: high school students, most often seniors, targeting one another with squirt guns or paint guns in an effort to remain the last one standing.
But the Ripon Police Department is asking parents to talk to their children about the “assassin” game.
According to a news release issued Tuesday, “participation in this game has led to injuries and the expenditure of valuable police resources.”
In the game, participants pay a fee. Each is issued the name of another participant, who is targeted for “assassination.” The goal is to take out other students while avoiding getting shot. The last participant standing wins a cash prize.
According to Ripon police, “Students often lie in wait in the darkness at homes, schools, businesses and even at church, in order to ‘assassinate’ their target. Students have also been known to chase each other in vehicles. The final student who ‘survives’ wins a cash prize.”
Becky Fortuna, spokeswoman for Modesto City Schools, said the district has tried to warn students and their parents of the game’s dangers.
“Over the years, we have had numerous reports of unsafe driving, trespassing and reports of students with ‘guns,’” she said in an email. “In spite of our efforts, every year around this time, students start organizing their teams.”
She said students caught playing the game on campus are subject to disciplinary action. “We are concerned for our students’ safety, as well as the safety of our community.”
Ripon police Lt. Steve Merchant said several people have reported crimes in progress that turned out to be students playing the game.
“When our citizens call 911, reporting a crime in progress, it prompts an immediate police response,” he said in the news release. In one case, a a student was attacked by a dog when the animal’s owner, spotting someone wearing a ski mask and armed with a plastic handgun, thought his property was being burglarized.
Three years ago, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department issued a similar warning after a case of mistaken identity during an “assassin” game resulted in a car chase, shots fired and a crash.
In that incident, a car full of Modesto High School seniors who were playing the game pulled up to a red pickup near Pelandale Avenue and Tully Road. The Modesto High students mistakenly thought the truck belonged to another student participating in the game.
A passenger in the seniors’ car squirted the truck’s occupants with a squirt gun. The pickup driver, a 26-year-old man from Lodi, reportedly gave chase and fired shots from a handgun before crashing his truck.
“Parents need to be aware that this thing is going on and the dangers it can pose to the teens,” Sheriff Adam Christianson said at the time.
Merchant pointed out Monday that “assassin” is not a school-sponsored event. “We are trying to work with parents, students and local schools to keep our children safe.”