Group of paintballers believe they have the solution to reduce violent crimes in the city

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte police say the use of paintball guns in Charlotte has become a problem this year. They've had a number of incidents just this week.

As of Wednesday, six police reports had been filed with the CMPD for various paintball related crimes.

WBTV spoke with some paintballers Wednesday evening who say they aren't trying to harm anyone. hey said they're pushing a message of nonviolence through paintball.

"Put the real guns down, pick the paintball guns up. If you got problems with somebody, shoot em' with paintball guns," said paintball player Myles Coleman.

Coleman and his friends hope that young people across the city will settle their disputes with the paintballs rather than bullets. They think their initiative is working.

"Put the guns down, paintball guns up. If you stand behind it you might see a different change in the city," said another paintball player who asked to remain anonymous.

Coleman said he first heard about the trend happening in Atlanta and decided to bring it to Charlotte. He said he and his friends will exchange locations and try to meet up at park or wooded area to shoot at one another.

"It's showing that we're trying. We're trying to do something different and positive," he said.

While Coleman and his friends see the positives of paintball in Charlotte, CMPD officers have been dealing with paintball problems.

CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano says police have already had 161 calls for paintball issues this year and about 55 of those calls have led to official police reports being filed. Tufano said 10 people have been arrested for crimes connected to paintball in 2018.

"You've got people shooting at cars. You've got people shooting at kids at bus stops. I heard a report in North Charlotte the other day of somebody shooting at a dog, I mean c'mon!" Tufano said.

He said officers are also concerned that a paintball gun will be mistaken for a real gun.

Coleman and his friends say they are trying to keep innocent bystanders out of their battles and offer up a message to the paintball community.

"Understand the movement and understand what's going on. Don't just pick up a paintball gun and start shooting at someone walking down the street," said one of the anonymous paintball players.

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