JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville men face charges and a third was cited after several vehicles in an Arlington neighborhood were splattered during a paintball fight Tuesday evening, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Officers were called to a subdivision on Bert Road off Arlington Road about 8:30 p.m. after a neighbor saw multiple people shooting at each other with paintball guns, according to a police report.
The pair took off running when officers showed up, police said, but they didn't get far. They were taken into custody once police had them surrounded.
The neighbor who called 911 told police she went outside to see what was going on after hearing multiple popping sounds. That's when she noticed paint splatters on her car.
According to the report, the neighbor "knew the guns were made to only fire paintballs and she did not believe there was a threat to her wellbeing."
Fredrick Johnson, 27, and DeShawn Dickey, 23, were booked into the Duval County jail on misdemeanor charges of resisting officers without violence and criminal mischief, jail logs show.
A third man was also detained. He was issued a notice to appear a court, an option not available to the others because they had priors.
The Sheriff's Office made an example of the arrests in a Facebook post, warning that running around with paintball guns could carry unintended consequences -- a trip to jail at the very least.
"This is not funny, this is not a joke. Shooting houses, cars, and people with paintball guns will land you in jail or possibly dead if you are encountered by an armed citizen or police officer who doesn't know what you are holding is a paintball gun," the post said.
'Surge in paintball incidents'
Tuesday's call marks the latest in a wave of incidents over the last two weeks in which people, homes and vehicles throughout Jacksonville have been pelted by paintball gunfire, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Here are some of the recent incidents reported to police we are working involving paintball guns. These include four children being shot, one as young as six. pic.twitter.com/H9dv1mhhNv— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) April 11, 2018
In a tweet, the Sheriff's Office said police have learned of at least eight such incidents since late last month. In most cases, people told investigators they were minding their own business when they were targeted. Paintballs came flying from moving cars in two of the incidents.
In one case, three children were shot while playing outside March 30 on West 13th Street in Northwest Jacksonville. In a separate incident April 6, a six-year-old child was shot in the back on Franklin Street on the city's Eastside.
A neighborhood divided
Neighbors are split on whether the paintball fights are good or bad thing. Some parents, particularly those with children, told News4Jax they're a nuisance with potentially dangerous consequences. Others, however, are painting the activity in a more positive light.
Linda Fugate said she loves sitting outside her apartment with her three-month-old great grandson, Robert. But, she said, recent paintball fights have kept them indoors. When she saw one fight earlier this week, she thought participants were trading actual gunfire.
"It scared the young people," she said. "They were running n the house getting up under the bed. Older people were grabbing their guns because I thought they had guns. It was terrible."
But others, including a man who goes by the name Kuldesacfat, said it's a bunch of people in the neighborhood coming together for some harmless fun.
"We're not shooting at anybody random," he said. "If you're part of the game, you're part of the game. If you're not part of the game, we're not going to come up at you and shoot you."
Fugate said she's not against young people having fun. She just wishes they would find a better venue for the game.
"This is not the place for that," she said. "They have arcades, they have parks. Do the right thing the right way. Why become a menace when you could become something positive?"
In light of public concerns, one of the paintball fight organizers said the group plans to move their game to one of several paintball venues in Jacksonville.
That event will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at Paintball Adventures, located at 11850 Camden Road. Admission is $35 if you bring your own gun and $48 if you don't have a gun.