A string of incidents involving young adults firing paintball guns in neighborhoods has led Columbus Police to warn parents and young people to use them properly.
Friday, 72-year-old Morris McCarty lost the sight in his right eye after 20-year-old Thomas Woodruff shot him with a paintball gun.
The incident happened at the intersection of Champion Avenue and East Whittier Street.
Woodruff appeared before in court Monday morning for arraignment. He is charged with felonious assault. In the court affidavit, Woodruff admits shooting the man, but says it was an accident.
“It’s not uncommon during the months of May and June for us to see pranks, and tag activity where kids are perhaps graduating from high school,” said Commander Gary Cameron, Columbus Division of Police.
Cameron said the tag or pranks are more often done with squirt guns, not paintball guns.
Friday’s shooting was one of many incidents concerning paintball gun usage in neighborhoods that required police response.
Last Tuesday, someone called 9-1-1 stating two young males were carrying large guns and firing shots at one another. When officers arrived, the ordered the suspects to drop the gun, which later turned out to be a paintball gun that was an exact replica of an AR-15 assault rifle.
“If these young people are out on the streets engaging in what they believe is prankster type activity, they could in fact lead to an armed confrontation with police,” said Cameron.
Mike Miller, owner of Paintball Ohio located at 3061 Silver Drive, is concerned a few people are ruining the image of a popular sport. He said responsible paintball gun owners play on closed courses with proper eye protection and supervision.
“It’s very concerning because it doesn’t do well with our sport,” said Miller. “That’s not the way the sport is intended. It’s meant to be played on a piece of property, whether it be commercial or your own, that’s taped off so people can’t just stroll in.”
With school out and summer near, Columbus Police urge parents and children to use paintball guns as they are intended, and not as a weapon.