What sounds like an innocent children's game is sparking a warning for parents, as police and school officials fear it could lead to dangerous consequences for those participating.
Bridgewater-Raritan High School parents recently got an email from the school warning them of the so-called "Assassins" game that students have started playing, as have students at high schools across the country.
The game is simple enough: Each team has four or five players, with 64 teams, and the goal being to eliminate other players who are targeted by hitting them with water, typically from a water gun.
And it is a highly regulated game as well, that required a registration form back in early March. With an entry cost of $15 per player, the goal is to be the last team standing.
In Spring 2021, two teams were co-champions and won a pot worth $2,000 — plenty of incentive for some to participate.
"To me, I think it would be the money — if you win, you get $2,000. But it's also a fun thing to do," said Bridgewater Raritan senior Colin Robinson.
But school officials said that by holding a fake weapon, even one as seemingly innocent as a water gun, police could mistake them for a criminal and have deadly consequences — especially because rules of the game allow for attacks in the dark of night.
"Some of the people heard about something about a weapon and hiding behind bushes. They obviously got nervous about suspicious activity, called us, we arrived on scene, some of those kids took off running," Bridgewater Police Chief Paul Payne said.
Robinson agreed with those points.
"Yeah, it could be because people come in late at night. Could be dangerous I feel like," he said.
Police and school officials said they are not trying to throw water on the game, just want students to be aware of the potential danger it could cause.
"Use common sense if you're doing it, and if you are stopped or approached by police, just identify yourself as a student or a kid playing the assassin game," Payne said. "We'll document what we have to on our end and we'll send them on their way and let them continue the game."
According to Chief Payne, it is a sign of the times when residents are more alert to people who appear to be holding a weapon, when criminals are crawling under cars to steal catalytic converters with their precious metals. The message to students: Don’t panic when a cop shows up.