The Apex Police Department said it is seeing a growing number of incidents where people are being shot by pellets as part of a dangerous TikTok trend.
60-year-old Ed Baumann told WRAL News he can’t go out on his bike anymore without the fear of being shot at again. After the incident in this intersection, he says he got out mostly unharmed – but the next cyclist might not be so lucky.
Baumann said a truck fired pellets at him while he was riding his bike near an Apex intersection.
“I was coming up Salem Street, I was just riding along, and all of the sudden I heard a pop. And I felt a sting in my arm and in my side,” said Baumann
Baumann says the incident left him with only a few welts on his skin, but he decided to report it to the police just to be safe.
That’s when he found out this was a bigger issue.
“The police told me it was some sort of TikTok challenge,” said Baumann. “I started looking it up and saw where people were really getting hurt a lot worse than I did.”
It’s called the Orbeez Challenge, named after water-filled beads that can be shot out of an air-powered gun.
A quick search on TikTok will turn up dozens of videos showing young people shooting Orbeez or other pellets at people from cars.
In Apex, police are all too familiar with it: as of three weeks ago, they’d already responded to three other cases of people falling victim to the challenge.
“A lot of the time what we’re seeing is young people doing this, especially with the TikTok challenge,” said Apex Police Chief Mitch McKinney. “It’s certainly not the wisest of decisions and it is unsafe.”
Along with the possibility of accidentally shooting someone in the eye, police say someone on the receiving end of these pellets could think they’re being shot at by a real gun and return fire.
Investigators have identified the owner of the truck that shot at Baumann, and whoever was inside at the time could face criminal charges.
“I know we all think of that famous holiday movie, ‘you’ll put your eye out’ kind of scenario. We don’t want any of that,” said McKinney.
Baumann says after the incident he still cycles almost every day, but he can’t help thinking about what could have happened if one of those pellets had hit him in the eye or distracted him enough to send him flying off his bike.
“None of this stuff is funny or cool. They’re finding amusement through this thing, but it’s not a video game,” said Baumann. “I mean people can get seriously hurt in this.”
Apex police are asking anyone with information about this case or other pellet shootings in the area to email their detective leading the investigation at [email protected]