Po­lice warn paint­ball van­dals of con­se­quences

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Jim Woods jwoods@dis­patch.com @Wood­snight

Since April 1, the South Lin­den neigh­bor­hood has been deal­ing with havoc wreaked by a dif­fer­ent type of weapon — paint­ball guns.

Colum­bus po­lice have fielded 16 re­ports of van­dal­ism caused by paint­ball guns this month. Most of the in­ci­dents have oc­curred in the South Lin­den neigh­bor­hoods from 5th Av­enue north to Hud­son Street off of Cleve­land Av­enue.

In one case, a per­son was struck in the face by a paint­ball shell.

Colum­bus Po­lice Sgt. Dana Hess, who works on sec­ond­shift pa­trol for the Lin­den area, said po­lice are ask­ing those us­ing paint­ball guns to stop now be­fore some­one gets hurt.

That could in­clude the paint­ball van­dals. Hess noted that paint­ball guns re­sem­ble real firearms. South Lin­den’s neigh­bor­hoods are among the busiest precincts for real gun vi­o­lence in the city.

“As po­lice of­fi­cers, we’re go­ing to re­spond to these types of in­ci­dents as if it’s a real gun be­cause we don’t know if it’s a paint­ball gun,” Hess said.

No ar­rests have been made so far. A per­son who dis­plays a paint­ball gun in a school zone could face a felony charge, Hess said. Most of the in­ci­dents, how­ever, would be con­sid­ered mis­de­meanor crim­i­nal dam­ag­ing.

One res­i­dent, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, sup­plied Colum­bus po­lice with a cell­phone video of a young man get­ting out of his car and un­load­ing a num­ber of paint­ball cap­sules at a car be­hind his near Hamil­ton Av­enue and Clin­ton Street.

There have been re­ports of peo­ple in cars rac­ing up and down the street and fir­ing paint­ball guns, Hess said.

Hess said there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the same group of peo­ple is in­volved in the paint­ball as­saults and that it could be a ver­sion of se­nior tag.

“There’s a time and place for these things to be used, and the pub­lic is not the place,” Hess said.

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