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Woodbury Police Warn about Playful Nerf Gun Game Getting out of Hand

Updated: 05/21/2014 10:00 PM
Created: 05/21/2014 9:56 PM KSTP.com
By: Naomi Pescovitz

High school teens in Minnesota are organizing what they call "Nerf Wars," playful battles in the streets with plastic guns and foam darts. Police tell KSTP, most of the games are completely harmless but there have been a few cases of bad behavior.

Hundreds of kids in teams of four or five will hide and search for each other, shoot and post selfies with their opponents on Twitter. Even Woodbury Patrol Officer Chris Rheault was impressed by the lengths the teenagers are going to play.

"It's actually kind of neat to see how organized they really are," Rheault said.

Rheault also says in one weekend this May, the department received more than 20 calls linked to Nerf Wars.

"These kids have set up a lot of their own rules and regulations, and there may be a few kids that are just going outside of those rule lines. And that's where they're ending up meeting with us," Rheault said.

The worst incidents involved teenagers playing while driving. In one case, it led to a head-on accident with minor damage and no injuries.

"They're driving erratically after each other or towards each other, which of course creates a potential for an accident," Rheault said.

There are dozens of Nerf Wars pages on Twitter. The one for Hudson High School has more than 200 followers, causing school administrators to send a warning email to parents.

"Please be aware that this game/activity is not sponsored or supported by the Hudson School District. Our primary reason for sending this email to you is the safety and well-being of our students, both in and out of school," Principal Peg Shoemaker said in the email to parents.

"Information from our local law enforcement identifies the following fines that are related to throwing "missiles, circulars or pamphlets" at a vehicle: City of Hudson $187.00; St. Croix County $263.50. Please take the time to speak with your son or daughter about this issue and make them aware of the potential consequences and harm that may be associated with this game," the email said.

Inver Grove Heights parent Jennine Joyner has seen kids playing the game. She says it can be harmless but she also has concerns.

"Strategizing as if they're actually trying to hit somebody. They're hiding behind bushes, they're driving quickly around corners to try to get in their cars really quick," Joyner said.

Woodbury Police spoke with school administrators about the game and possible dangers. Since then, the number of incidents has dropped significantly.

"If you're going to play, be smart, use common sense, especially when you are driving in your car and you are playing in the game... We don't want to stop the game, we just don't want to get anybody hurt," Rheault said.

Edina Police have received a handful of calls to dispatch about the game. They tell KSTP the incidents were not serious. Stillwater Police also tell KSTP they have not seen any poor conduct related to the game.

Students at Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin say the school district sent out a warning about the potential dangers of the game after learning kids there were playing.

In Wausau, Wisconsin, six high school students received disorderly conduct citations because neighbors thought the teens had actual guns. However, those students were never charged.


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