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'Assassins' game causes concern in Jefferson Hills, Pleasant Hills

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 4:36 a.m.

Jefferson Hills officers said on Thursday they and police in neighboring Pleasant Hills are responding to complaints of vehicles being driven recklessly by teenagers.

A Jefferson Hills police advisory talked of high speed chases with motorists “blocking each other in, and on occasion driving through yards” while some teens also were reported “running through the back yards of residences, sometimes carrying guns.”

It is an annual game called “assassins,” Jefferson Hills police said in the advisory sent out as an email and posted on the borough's Nixle site.

The advisory said squirt guns and Nerf guns are used to track down and eliminate targets. Criminal charges associated with the gameplay could be very real.

Some teenagers across the country take the game seriously, particularly in California.

A Facebook site posted in 2011 describes using “water guns, water balloons ... pretty much anything with water ... to ‘kill' the target.” It instructed would-be players to “show evidence of you ‘killing' your target” with pictures and videos.

“Unfortunately,” the Jefferson Hills advisory said, “while the teens' mindset and mentality is that of a ‘game,' the behavior is being misconstrued and misinterpreted by residents and others.”

In March 2012, according to various reports, a Modesto, Calif., motorist pursued teens who fired a squirt gun at him — and allegedly fired a real handgun at them, before his truck rolled over, injuring his passenger.

“With the prospect of personal injury and/or property damage, to either participants or innocent bystanders, both the Pleasant Hills and Jefferson Hills police departments are adopting a zero tolerance mentality,” the Jefferson Hills advisory said. “Those choosing to engage in this behavior will be charged with criminal, vehicle and ordinance violations, when applicable.”

Jefferson Hills police can be reached at a non-emergency number, 412-655-2222, while the non-emergency number for Pleasant Hills police is 412-655-5045.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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