Police departments warn high schoolers' 'Senior Assassins' game could turn deadly


Multiple police departments are warning parents and community members that a nationwide game between high school students later this week could have deadly consequences.

On social media, several police agencies are sounding the alarm on a game called “Senior Assassin,” where participants are given another player’s name who they are tasked with hunting and tagging, usually with a water gun, to eliminate them, until there is a single winner.

“The Arlington Heights Police Department wants to convey important information to community members by making you aware of an on-line, live action game called Senior Assassin. This game is played by High School students throughout the country, including here in Arlington Heights. It is an annual springtime tradition for students, especially seniors. Participants attempt to forego match elimination by squirting other players using a water gun with a goal of being the last person remaining in the game,” police in the Village of Arlington Heights wrote on Facebook Friday.

The post continued: “The concept is not against the law or a local ordinance. We ask everyone to play safely, use common sense and recognize how players’ actions may be perceived by members of the community. The unintentional result of participants running throughout the community with a water gun, some often resembling a look-alike firearm, could have deadly consequences.”

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Person hiding behind a wall

Participants in “Senior Assassin” are tasked with hunting and tagging other players, usually with a water gun, to eliminate them. This often includes hiding and waiting, which usually looks suspicious, police warned. (Adobe Stock)

Police issued the warning as the game’s rules often dictate players are not able to play on school grounds or within classrooms, thus bringing their game into the public, where bystanders may not be aware of what is really happening.

“Players attempt to locate their opponents at various sites including home, local parks, and other gathering spaces within the community. Students will often hide in odd spots, chase targets through yards and appear suddenly in a vehicle or on foot,” Arlington Heights police said.

Adding, “The police department does not condone or support cited objectives in this game. The State of Illinois has increasing numbers of individuals who possess a Concealed Carry License; an ability to carry a concealed firearm in public for self-defense. We are alerting residents that this spring time game has begun.”

In addition to seeing participants suspiciously hiding around town, the use of water guns can produce deadly consequences if bystanders suspect the weapon is real.

“The Police Department has received calls regarding associated activity. One such call resulted in a significant police response based on a homeowner reporting a ‘man with a gun’ running through their residential yard. Please do not assume any similar suspicious activity observed is related to this game. Any unusual activity should be reported immediately by calling 9-1-1,” the Arlington Heights Police Department wrote.

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It added: “We encourage parents to talk to their children about safety concerns linked to openly carrying a squirt gun that resembles a look-alike firearm and being on private property without permission. Consider the perception an uninformed resident who sees a person rapidly displaying a replica firearm in a populated common area. That action could be viewed as ‘Alarming and Disturbing’ which are elements of a criminal offense and/or local ordinance violation – Disorderly Conduct. The Police Department understands there is excitement and anticipation as the school year comes to a conclusion. We request all students to please be mindful of their actions.”

Water gun

Participants often use water guns, which in some instances may resemble actual firearms, to tag other players. (Adobe Stock)

Other towns and police departments across Illinois are similarly sounding the alarm.

“Yesterday, a group of high school students from a neighboring community entered a local restaurant wearing ski masks and displaying water guns resembling firearms. They were targeting other students who were dining in the restaurant and attempting to spray them with water. An adult, who was a concealed carry holder, in the restaurant mistook the situation for a genuine threat, and the situation could have escalated quickly,” the Gurnee Police Department wrote on Facebook.

It added: “The gravity of the situation cannot be emphasized enough; it had the potential to lead to serious consequences.”

Two guns, sidewalk

The Village of Bartlett in Illinois shared a photo of two guns, cautioning residents about a high school “Senior Assassins” game. (Village of Bartlett – Illinois/Facebook)

And, “The Gurnee Police Department would like to emphasize that the depiction of firearms, whether real or imitation, in any public setting, is a matter of concern and may instill fear among the public. We urge community members to reconsider their participation in such activities and recognize the seriousness of their actions.”

The department urged residents to remain vigilant and reminded them of the anecdote: “See Something, Say Something.”

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The Village of Bartlett warned the water gun game will start on Sunday, April 14.

“Although the game has strict rules that prohibit trespassing or any other illegal activities, other police departments, including the St. Charles Police Department have responded to 9-1-1 calls made by residents who have seen suspicious vehicles or individuals wearing masks or hoodies lurking around their neighbor’s homes,” it wrote.

People using water guns

Players’ water guns can be mistaken for real weapons, police have warned. (Adobe Stock)

“Some of these reports also involved participants driving on lawns or brandishing what looked like realistic-looking handguns (as shown in the pictures), which has caused concern for the responding officers since they were unable to tell whether the participating students were committing actual crimes or simply playing a game,” the Village of Bartlett continued.

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Any suspicious activities should be reported to the appropriate authorities and players are advised to play responsibly.



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