Paintball attacks targeting Chicago pedestrians surging, doctor warns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's a new warning about a surge in recent paintball attacks involving people in moving vehicles and people walking on sidewalks.

Typically, eye surgeons at the University of Chicago Medical Center see one paintball-related eye injury every few months. But as a result of this disturbing trend, doctors there said they treated as many as eight patients in one weekend.

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Police are looking for suspects after a 29-year-old man was shot in the eye by a paintball Thursday in the South Loop.

Authorities are warning others about a dangerous pattern: paintball attacks on pedestrians in Chicago have sent several to the hospital with serious eye injuries.

"It is very rare to see seven to eight severe eye injuries of any sort within a weekend, much less of the same kind," said Dr. Hassan Shah, an ophthalmologist at University of Chicago Medical Center.

Dr. Shah said the injuries treated over the past weekend could impact patients for life.

"These injuries do range from bleeding inside the eye and vision loss to where the eye actually ruptures - and we saw that whole range during this weekend," Dr. Shah said.

The University of Chicago's police department said it received eight reports of paintball attacks in the past several days, similar to previous attacks reported over the past few weeks.

Last month, a paintball attack on Michigan Avenue was caught on video. Chicago police said one of the two victims hit was shot in the eye.

"High velocity paintball injuries can be severely damaging to eyes and it will often result in permanent vision loss," Dr. Shah said.

Dr. Shah said some of the patients treated last weekend needed surgery and others suffered vision loss, which could be permanent.
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