CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The use of paintball guns to commit various crimes has become a troubling trend in the city of Charlotte.
In just the month of April, 69 different police reports have been filed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department concerning paintball-related crimes.
The incidents vary in nature. Some of the reports involve people being hit by the paintballs and some were filed because houses or cars were hit by them.
In late April CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano said police already had 161 calls for paintball issues in 2018 and about 55 of those calls had led to official police reports being filed. Tufano said ten people were arrested for crimes connected to paintball shootings in 2018.
Joshua Stinson, a delivery cyclist for Insomnia Cookies in uptown Charlotte, recently fell victim to the paintball trend. He said he was shot while riding his bike home one night.
"I felt paintballs, like something burning in my back, my leg, my neck," said Stinson.
He said the paintballs were fired from a black car with tinted windows, but he wasn't able to get a good description of the vehicle. He was hit with several paintballs.
"I looked-I saw orange, yellow, everything, so I hopped off my bike and called the police," said Stinson.
The paintball-related crimes have happened across the city. Steven Putnam said he was shot by paintballers while he was working near an I-77 construction zone.
"I think it was six people that day that ended up filing reports because that is the standard practice on the job site," recounted Putnam.
He said he was able to recognize that paintballs were being fired from a vehicle, but some of his colleagues weren't sure what was happening.
"One of the people on site that got hit thought that they got actually shot," explained Putnam.
Police have feared that the paintball issues will lead to more serious crimes. The innocent victims like Stinson and Putnam hope the trend will come to a halt.
"Anything that you're doing that you would not appreciate someone doing to you on a surprise, don't do it," said Stinson.