Juveniles wanted for firing gel ball gun inside Bucks County theater as part of challenge, police say
BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. - A social media challenge caused quite the scare in Bucks County Tuesday night when police say a group of teenagers entered a movie theater with what was initially thought to be a BB gun.
Officers responded to the Regal Cinema on Easton Road in Warrington around 8:45 p.m. for a call that initially came over as shots being fired.
The manager told police when they arrived that two juveniles went into a theater and shot a BB gun while a movie was being played. It is unknown how many people were in the theater at the time, and it was later discovered that the gun was an Orbeez-style gun that shoots gel-filled balls.
"There are a lot of patrons in there, and it’s dark. You come in, and you hear these loud bangs, we all know what happened in recent history and that’s horrible, and you can imagine my sergeant and officers that were responding to that thinking, ‘Oh no, we have another situation,’" said Warrington Township Police Chief Daniel J. Friel.
Fortunately, police say they received an updated call from a witness saying the shots appeared to be water gel or BB rounds, but Chief Friel says had it gone any different, the theater would have had to be evacuated.
"Had this gone slightly different, we would have had a major evacuation and shut down that movie theater with a full active response mode," Chief Friel said. "Not only the police response, but if somebody mistakes that, that they're being shot at, something bad could happen to those juveniles as well."
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This isn't the first of these incidents in the area. Authorities say there is a social media challenge that involves shooting random people with gel ball guns in crowded spaces.
One week ago, Warrington Township police say a similar incident happened at a Target store. A video released by police shows a sedan pulling up to a Target on Easton Road and a juvenile firing a gel ball gun towards a store manager.
"There’s some funny stuff on TikTok, but there’s no way I would ever feel safe or okay with kids doing that kind of thing. It’s scary," said Melissa Sweeney, a parent who lives in Warrington Township.
Police say they are investigating whether the incident at the theater and the Target are connected, but in the meantime, they are urging parents to speak to their children about the dangers associated with social media challenges like this.
"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE speak with your children and teens about the dangers associated with this," Warrington Police said. "Many of these gel ball guns can appear realistic and can easily be mistaken for posing a real threat."
Police are looking for the juveniles, who reportedly fled in a car waiting outside the theater. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Warrington Police Department.