A teenager thought to be taking part in a viral TikTok challenge with a pump-action water pistol has been shot and killed by an off-duty US prison officer.
New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed to Sky News that 45-year-old officer Dion Middleton has been arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter, and criminal possession of a weapon after the 18-year-old died on Thursday.
Police were called to the Bronx, a borough of New York City, and found Raymond Chaluisant unconscious and unresponsive. He had been shot in the face.
The Orbeez Challenge encourages TikTok users to buy small soft gel or water balls (the Orbeez), load them into toy guns, and fire them at innocent victims. Many videos showed teens firing the water beads from a moving car.
Some of the toy guns look very realistic, often imitating the type of semi-automatic weapons which have been used by gunmen in mass shootings, most recently in Uvalde, Texas.
On Friday, an “Orbeez Challenge” search on TikTok revealed a warning message about content that “violated” the platform’s guidelines.
One of the avenues for the police investigation into Chaluisant’s death is the Orbeez gun he had in his car.
The evening after the deadly shooting, the NYPD tweeted out a warning about the Orbeez blasters, explaining they are actually air rifles, making them illegal.
The tweet said: “Air rifles are a violation in NYC & are unlawful to possess.