By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Three 16-year-old Craig youths were taken into custody after allegedly firing paint guns at children and horses, and videotaping the attacks.
At approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Craig Police Department received complaints that three male teens pulled up in a vehicle and attacked two 10-year-old boys who were sledding on Cathy Cisar Hill hitting one twice in the face.
The youths were apprehended by officers as they were running back from a fence line near the intersection of 13th Street and Bryan Way.
A witness reported that the youths had been shooting at horses in the pasture.
The youths were taken into custody, and then released to the Crisis Intervention Team, pending the filing of formal charges by the District Attorney's Office.
The charges are expected to be filed today or Monday. The three youths were later released to their parents.
The suspects face charges of felony second degree assault and cruelty to animals.
Based on the ensuing investigation, the youths have apparently been involved with several incidents of paintball attacks on people, animals, homes and cars during the past several weeks.
"One of the victims [on Tuesday] was shot three separate times they almost stalked this kid," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said. "Part of the problem is that people view paintball guns as toys, but they're not. There is case law that defines them as a weapon these paintball guns can fire with enough pressure to cause death. They need to be treated as any other handgun, pellet, or BB gun.
"We occasionally receive complaints of houses and cars being hit by paintballs, but what was unusual about this case was that the three were shooting people, dogs and horses. You really run the risk of causing permanent injury to an eye, for example when shooting people in the face with a paintball gun.
"I know one young man whose vision is severely damaged from a paintball gun, and that was accidental."
The police department is requesting that anyone else who was a victim of these attacks, but did not report them, call the Craig Police Department at 824-8111 to report the incident.
"Before parents buy paintball guns, they should require that their kids go to a hunter safety course, or have some in-house [gun safety] training," Vanatta said. "Kids should know when to, and when not to use these devices. But it should be common sense that you don't shoot anyone in the face when they are unprotected, or shoot animals or livestock, with any kind of device."