SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A 15-year-old in San Jose is recovering from her injuries after she was shot with a pellet gun on Friday. The girl believes the shooting may be part of a viral TikTok trend that has the attention of local police departments.
Gianna Vitarelli was walking home from the Valley Fair Mall when she was shot in the back by someone driving by. Vitarelli said doctors originally believed she just had a shallow cut, but an X-ray revealed that she suffered a collapsed lung and a fractured rib.
After three days in Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s ICU, she returned home on Monday. A paramedic told Vitarelli’s father that she was the fourth pellet gun victim of the day at that hospital — possibly due to a social media trend.
The Alameda Police Department warned parents on Monday of a viral TikTok challenge that is causing people to be shot with pellet guns. Police referred to the challenge as the “Orbeez/Splatter Ball Challenge,” which involves participants shooting random people with water pellets from airsoft guns.
Viterelli does not know if her shooting was because of the trend, but said people — even a teacher — believe it was. The San Jose Police Department confirmed two other pellet gun shootings on Friday.
“If it is a trend that is just very disturbing and very sick, because the bullet was within an inch of my heart. It could have killed me,” Vitarelli said.
APD also responded to an incident over the weekend where teens possibly participating in the challenge shot people with gel water pellets. The victims were not seriously injured, but APD said the incident “caused great concern.”
APD reported that in other cities, people have been injured from being shot the eyes. APD asked parents to speak with their kids about the challenge and other potentially harmful internet trends.
The San Jose Police Department said that it does not yet have a suspect in Vitarelli’s shooting. However, a detective has been assigned to the case.