Teens in Jefferson Hills accused of playing 'game' that damages property, risks lives

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JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa. - Police in Jefferson Hills have issued a warning to teenagers in the area participating in a "game" that has left homeowner's property damaged. 

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.

One resident said he witnessed three teens speeding past his Willhem Drive home and then drive through his neighbor's front yard.

"The car that was behind him flew down the street. The other one flew up the street," said one resident. "If I caught my kid doing it, let's just say it would end his days of playing."

The advisory said squirt guns and Nerf guns are used to track down and eliminate targets. Criminal charges associated with the game play 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.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.