Suburban police warn of 'senior assassins' water gun game played by students wearing ski masks

The warning comes after an incident involving a CCL holder in the north suburbs

ByEric Horng and Rob Hughes and the ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Students playing 'senior assassins' game mistaken for real gunmen
Suburban police are warning communities of teens playing 'senior assassins' after a concealed-carry holder in Gurnee mistook a water gun for a real threat.

GURNEE, Ill. (WLS) -- Multiple suburban police departments are warning the community about a game high school seniors are playing, called "senior assassins."

On Tuesday, a group of seniors wearing ski masks went into a restaurant with water guns that looked like firearms, according to the Gurnee Police Department

The high school seniors were targeting other students who were eating and tried to spray them with water. An employee at the Point Pancake House at Skokie Highway and Riverside Drive told ABC7 a concealed carry license-holder was in the restaurant at the time and mistook the situation for a genuine threat.

"It's my understanding that he was in the process of pulling out the weapon, and it was displayed," said Gurnee Det. Shawn Gaylor.

Nobody was injured, but police warn the situation could have escalated quickly.

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Arlington Heights, Bartlett, St. Charles police and Homewood School District 153 also issued warnings.

The "senior assassins" game has gone viral across the country on social media. In the game, players get assigned a random target they must "tag" with a water gun.

At times, rules specify teams can't play the game during school hours or on school property, Arlington Heights police said.

"One such call resulted in a significant police response based on a homeowner reporting a 'man with a gun' running through their residential yard," police said.

And in St. Charles, police said last week a resident called, mistaking the game for gunmen lying in wait.

"You have three young men that are jumping out from a parked vehicle, hiding behind some bushes, and, you know, that kind of portrayed and looked like an assault," said St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan.

The Gurnee Police Department reminded the public that the depiction of firearms, whether real or fake may instill fear among the public.

"Incidents like these may warrant disorderly conduct charges, as they often cause feelings of being alarmed and disturbed by others," Gurnee police said.

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The Village of Bartlett is aware of students planning to start the game this weekend, and in Homewood a police response was triggered Wednesday afternoon by teens with water guns chasing each other near Willow School.

Police and school district leaders from these areas have asked parents to talk to their kids about the consequences of carrying something that looks like a real weapon.

At least two police departments said, depending on the seriousness of the situation, disorderly conduct charges may be warranted.

St. Charles police shared photos of water guns that appear to be hyper-realistic.

Earlier in April, parents at Naperville's Neuqua Valley High School were notified a student was confronted in the parking lot after "two community members saw what looked like a gun in the hand of [that] student at a local business" and called 911. It was all part of the game.

Earlier this week, a middle school in Homewood was placed on lockdown for a mistaken report o someone with a real gun blocks away.

"Certainly we had the advantage that this was daytime, so visibility was a little better, but if you start factoring night time, it certainly becomes more difficult under those conditions to distinguish between the two," said Homewood Police Chief Denise McGrath.