BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Nationwide, police are tackling a new type of gun violence. Hundreds of paintball shootings have been reported in multiple states, and now it’s picking up in Baltimore.
“Guns Down, Paint Balls Up” is a movement that was intended to curb gun violence.
“It started in Atlanta, with a rapper who started putting things on YouTube and Instagram,” said Milwaukee Police Sgt. Melissa Franckowiak.
Police say Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage’s campaign against firearms may have backfired — they’ve linked at least two deaths to paintball wars.
In April, 3-year-old T’Rhigi Diggs was shot while he slept in the back of his mother’s car in Milwaukee. Police say he was killed by a teen who fired a handgun at people shooting paintballs.
“My baby’s really strong, my baby fight for his life almost 45 minutes before the ambulance got there,” said Roshanda Craig, T’Rhigi’s mother.
Weeks later, another death, 19-year-old Zyquarius Bradley who was shot and killed in Greensboro. His body found next to a car covered with paintballs.
Baltimore police say it’s also a concern in the city.
“These guns look real, an officer pulled over a vehicle because they saw a rifle sticking out of the window of a vehicle, and they get up and find out it’s a paintball gun,” said Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith. “It’s something we want to get in front of, and let people know it is illegal, it is something we are taking seriously.”
People caught firing a paintball gun could face disorderly conduct or other criminal charges.