LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Authorities are again seeing a spike this year in paintball shootings in the city of Los Angeles.
The L.A. Police Department reported Wednesday that there have been 90 paintball shootings so far this year, the majority of which occurred in South L.A. Furthermore, the shooters are recording themselves and then uploading the videos to social media, police said.
Investigators say the victims were simply out in their neighborhood, just like Ashtann Lewis, when she was shot in front of her friend last week.
“He just draws out a gun, and I didn’t know it was a paintball gun…he just starts firing” she said. “I didn’t even know I was hit with a paintball gun. I thought I was shot. I literally thought I was going to die.”
Using a paintball gun to shoot someone in public is a felony, police added. Police said they’ve made eight arrests in the last week alone.
“Paintball guns can look like real assault rifles and have the capacity to shoot bullets at a speed of 300 feet-per-second,” the LAPD said in a news release.
Authorities said they are not just worried about the safety of those who may be shot by a paintball gun.
“An officer will encounter a young person armed with one of these realistic-looking paintball guns and be forced to make a split second life or death decision,” said Capt. Scot Williams.
The LAPD said they have not had any close encounters like that yet. They did say they’ve noticed paintball guns being sold out of ice cream trucks, making them easier for young people to get their hands on.
Paintballs can cause serious soft tissue injuries.
This is not a new problem for police. Back in June of 2019, the LAPD reported on a similar trend in which people were posting paintball shootings to social media. However, they say that these incidents have increased by 30% since last year.