For many, it’s a rite of passage; a last hurrah for high school seniors, but for educators and police officials, the game is one fraught with pitfalls and potentially serious consequences.
It’s called ‘Assassin,’ and Tri-Valley schools and law enforcement agencies are asking students not to participate in the annual spring tradition, while urging parents to be aware of the violent and dangerous nature of the game.
The game involves teams of students assigned to a target they are tasked with ‘assassinating’ with Nerf-like guns and foam bullets. The game unfolds over the course of days or weeks, as each target is picked off and retired from the group. The boundaries are outside of school confines, and teams try to hit their targets coming out of their homes, while shopping, or when leaving events. Participants pay to play, and the last person standing is the winner.
But according to officials, what often occurs during the course of the event, is the reporting of activity by residents unfamiliar with the game, and the potential for dangerous consequences for those participating.
In a joint press statement from the Dublin Police Department and Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) released last week, students were advised to skip the game this year.
“Parents and students need to be aware that this activity can look like a realistic violent crime,” officials said. “Not only does this consume significant time and resources of emergency personnel, it also jeopardizes the safety of our community when actual threats cannot be responded to in a timely manner. Furthermore, in the eyes of a startled homeowner protecting (their) family or property, a violent response to a player is quite possible.”
In year’s past, ‘Assassin’ has been a source of concern for students who engage in risky behaviors for the sake of the game, such as disguising weapons to make them look more realistic, lying in wait behind bushes, trash cans and fences, and jumping out of moving vehicles to attack or flee from a participant.
“It always seemed a bit dangerous and foolish,” said Marty Fuller, whose grown children participated in the game in Pleasanton during their high school years. “We all wondered how long it would be before someone would get seriously hurt. I’m glad to see the police and schools are cracking down on it.”
The game has prompted multiple calls to police to respond, thereby taking time away from emergency personnel and front line responders. Police officials say that if an officer or another person is injured during the response to an incident, those involved, including the parents, could be held liable. In addition to possible legal and criminal consequences, students will face disciplinary action if any weapons, even imitation guns, are brought on school campuses or if evidence is discovered that the game is being played at school.
“The safety of our students is always our top priority,” said DUSD officials said. “We hope this information will help families stay informed.”