SAN CARLOS, Calif. (KGO) -- There's shock in San Carlos after the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said groups of teens are using toy guns to shoot gel balls at random people.
"A toy gun is a toy gun until it is used to victimize others," Sgt. Javier Acosta told ABC7 News. "And then that's when law enforcement gets involved and things can get pretty, pretty ugly."
Sgt. Acosta linked the attacks to a TikTok trend which encourages people to shoot at strangers. He said the office has taken reports on half a dozen of these "Orbeez attacks" in the last few weeks.
He said the office believes different groups of teens are jumping out of vehicles and firing hydrated gel balls at strangers.
"At times, we've gotten reports of people yelling, 'Shoot, shoot!' So, if you can imagine the dangers that could potentially come with that," he described.
Acosta said they've had incidents in Millbrae and most recently in downtown San Carlos.
Valerie Schick was out with her husband on Monday night, when they reacted to the news.
"I don't know what to say about that," Valerie said about the TikTok trend. "The kids, they just. It just propagates on social media. It's terrible."
Her husband Ron weighed in, "Yeah, the more they see it, the more they want to do it."
This is why the sheriff's office is asking parents to speak with their kids, to make sure they aren't participating in the trend for a number of reasons.
Resident Louis Gascoigne said, "I think it's bad for the kids too, because if they accidentally open up on the wrong person, not a good idea for them."
"It's a dangerous thing to do," Sgt. Acosta added. "What if that person was legally carrying a concealed weapon? If you can imagine the danger behind that, or what that can turn into."
As of Monday, Sgt. Acosta said no injuries had been reported. Though he told ABC7 News, in some incidents, the sheriff's offices noted the teens used frozen Orbeez in their attack.
"Either way, they still hurt. It's still a dangerous situation," he said. "It's a trend that has been going on across this country for some time. And it seems to have recently surfaced in San Mateo County."
"They're gonna get caught," LA County Resident Thomas Sanford said. "But it's dangerous what they're doing! And now you're telling me about freezing the pellets. Bad! Very bad."
Acosta said participants could face misdemeanors, even felonies. And for minors, their parents could face civil lawsuits as well.
He said witness statements have provided limited details about the suspects, except the attacks have involved five juvenile suspects in an unknown vehicle.
If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live