ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Pete Police are investigating after several people were hit by gel beads in the downtown area. The viral social media trend called the Orbeez challenge involves teens shooting strangers with gel beads.
Mike Schuman said last Saturday, he was saying goodbye to some friends near his parked car.
"I just saw this white and orange gun sticking out of the back window," Schuman said.
Schuman said he was hit by the gel beads several times in the face area. He says the beads ruptured blood vessels near his eye. He said it disrupted his vision and caused a lot of pain.
“I was really worried I was going to lose my eyesight," he said.
Although Schuman's eye has healed, he says the incident has left him feeling uneasy.
“I’m always going to be nervous as cars pass me when I’m going out," he explained.
A St. Pete couple who was taking their daily walk was also hit by gel beads that weekend. The woman said she started to scream because she was startled and one of the beads went inside her mouth causing her to choke.
“My tongue was swelling so bad I felt like I was having trouble breathing," she said.
The St. Petersburg Police Department is still searching for the people responsible. They believe a black Nissan Altima was involved. They are asking anyone with information to give them a call at 727-893-7780. You can also text SPPD plus your tip to TIP411.
Other law enforcement agencies nearby have also been seeing an increase in incidents involving this viral trend. Clearwater Police said a woman was injured after being shot at with an Orbeez gun on the beach not too long ago.
Rob Shaw with Clearwater Police says they make sure their officers are aware of these viral social media trends.
“Sometimes we distribute internal bulletins to officers saying this is something you need to be on the lookout for," he said.