LIVERMORE — Livermore police are warning parents, students and the community about a game being played by high school seniors that police say could lead to tragic consequences.
The game is called “Assassin,” and it’s been played for years by seniors across the country both on and off campuses. The way it works is this: Students pay to play and are given the name of another senior who they have to “assassinate” by using toy guns or other types of fake weapons. Players hunt each other down, often chasing after their targets or lying in wait in bushes and other hiding spots, to successfully make their “kills.” The last player standing wins a cash prize.
It may sound like innocent fun, but Livermore police say over the past several years, the game has gotten out of hand, resulting in injuries to students, danger to the public and numerous calls to police.
According to Livermore police Officer Traci Rebiejo, while playing “Assassin,” one student was pulled over for going twice the speed limit because she thought her attacker was chasing her. Another teen was knocked unconscious as he tried to escape his attacker by ducking into a car. And last year, a female student lost control of her car while being pursued and crashed into a house, suffering minor injuries.
“We’re seeing the byproducts of the game where kids are putting themselves and the community in danger,” Rebiejo said. “If somebody’s going double the speed limit, who’s to say they won’t hit a pedestrian?”
Calls for service are also on the rise as a result of game play, Rebiejo said, including reports of armed individuals, reckless drivers and suspicious persons. Two years ago, she said, officers conducted a felony stop based on calls about gun-wielding subjects, only to find the teens were carrying toy guns. The unneccesary calls, Rebiejo said, can deplete police resources and incur extra costs to the city.
“We want parents to know what’s going on,” Rebiejo said. “Things have happened, and we want our kids to be safe.”
The game has become something of a tradition or rite of passage among seniors but is neither endorsed nor condoned by local high schools.
Granada High School Principal Philomena Rambo said she stood with police in discouraging students from participating.
“What concerns me is that it is potentially dangerous for the kids who play the game,” Rambo said, adding that students have had real guns pulled on them by police while playing the game. “I just don’t want anything to happen because somebody made the assumption that it’s a real weapon.”
Rambo said school administators have made it clear to students that they’re prohibited from playing “Assassin” on school grounds, and any student found with a toy gun on campus could face suspension. The principal added she would follow up with phone calls and emails to parents.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.