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CT police warn about teens playing assassin-style games

Although “Senior Assassin,” “Water Wars” and similar assassination-themed games are a springtime tradition for teenagers in many Connecticut communities, police are stepping up their warnings about the risks after two incidents this week.

“Trumbull Police urge adults to speak to youth about the risks of this game and ensure they understand their actions,” Trumbull police wrote in a Facebook message to the city on Wednesday. “We want to remind the community that the sight of a firearm in public can instill fear and turn a 'game' into a deadly encounter.”

In the Region 10 cities of Burlington and Harwinton, the school resource officer issued an alert this week saying: “Participants should use their best judgment and be aware that non-participants and members of the public may be alarmed by water ambushes .”

In several communities across the state, school officials or police are urging parents to warn their teenagers that a seemingly harmless game can have dangerous or potentially tragic consequences, especially if players lose sight of safety.

Tuesday was a particularly problematic day with the games: Trumbull police received a 911 call about a young man hiding in the bushes with what looked like a handgun, and dispatched patrol officers who were able to determine it was The suspect was a teenager playing an assassin and was carrying a water pistol.

That same day, fear spread throughout an entire Old Lyme neighborhood when two heavily camouflaged teenagers were seen darting between bushes with what appeared to be armed weapons, police said.

The school system rerouted some buses to avoid the area, and state troopers found two teenage brothers attending the game. This incident was so disturbing that the police issued the boys a citation for breach of the peace.

No one was injured in either incident, but police warned that the nature of the game carries the risk of a bad outcome.

“Assassin” and its variations pit students against each other and try to “kill” each other with mock weapons, sometimes Nerf guns, but usually water pistols. On a national level, it became semi-famous through the 1982 film TAG: The Assassination Game.

Rules vary from place to place, but the game typically involves young people with water guns hiding near houses or lurking in parking lots to stalk their classmates in elimination competitions.

Typically, each participant is given the name of a target and then attempts to sneak up on that person to shoot them. In some towns in the Farmington Valley and elsewhere, it has become a tradition for high school students and usually takes place over a few days in late April or early May.

“We don’t tolerate it, neither does the school. “We keep an eye on it and it’s usually pretty peaceful,” Lt. Rodney Williams of the Avon Police Department.

Schools typically enforce rules to prevent something like this from happening on school grounds. Therefore, in some communities, it has become quite common to see teenagers lurking behind trees or parked cars waiting for a “target” to get out of a house or car.

In their message, Trumbull police described the local version of the game as involving money.

“'Senior Assassin' is trending in high schools across the United States, where students sign up, pay a fee and are randomly assigned another player to target. Players then attempt to “assassinate” their target, often by marking them with water, and the last player wins,” police wrote.

“Trumbull Police urge adults to talk to teenagers about the risks of this game and ensure they understand their actions. Do not trespass on other people's property, especially if you are carrying anything that looks like a firearm. Do not hide in garages, houses, vehicles, etc. Homeowners may also arm themselves after observing people on their property,” the notice concludes.

Windsor Locks Police issued a warning Monday to remind the community of what to expect.

“The senior game 'Water Assassins' starts tomorrow morning. “Basically, WLHS seniors in different parts of the city will try to shoot each other with water guns,” police wrote. “Just be aware that they may be hiding in the bushes or acting suspiciously. Please contact WLPD if anyone encounters a WLHS student who is taking this game beyond its intent, is rude to you during an interaction, or is committing a crime.”

Simsbury police issued a similar advisory last week, saying: “While students use brightly colored toy water guns, there have been instances of poor judgment involving the use of water guns that resembled real firearms.”

Chief Nicholas Boulter said on Thursday that the main concern was that young people were getting too excited about the game and driving unsafely, driving too fast, running through neighbors' yards or doing anything else that was dangerous or disturbing to local residents .

Anna Harden

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