Police continue to see uptick in paintball attacks across the city

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- More than 200 paintball attacks have happened in the city over the past two months, and some of them have caused serious injuries.

According to police, the latest paintball attack happened Thursday night in Streeterville on the Near North Side.

A 33-year-old man was on the sidewalk at about 10:20 p.m. in the 400 block of East Illinois Street when he “began feeling something striking him all over the body."

The man realized he’d been hit by paintballs and suffered bruising and swelling to his left hand, police said. He declined medical treatment.

He told investigators he didn’t see who shot at him.

According to CBS 2, another paintball attack happened Thursday night near the Vans Store on State Street in the Loop. Yellow paint was left near the windows on the store around 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

On Tuesday, a CTA bus driver was a victim of a paintball attack in the Chatham neighborhood.

There have been more than 200 paintball shootings reported in Chicago in September and October, according to police records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s nearly five times the 42 attacks reported between January and August.

The University of Chicago Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital have treated some of the victims.

Dr. Hassan Shah, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual science at UChicago Medicine, recalled a weekend earlier this month where the hospital treated eight patients for paintball-related injuries.

Some people have ended up with serious eye injuries, including permanent loss of vision, he said.

“We’ve seen the full spectrum of injuries, from bleeding inside the eye to severe damage where the eye is ruptured, where we cannot repair the eye and may even have to recommend removal of the eye,” Shah told the Sun-Times.

Alderman Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, told the Sun-Times he thinks boredom is behind many of the attacks.

“The casualty of these paintball war games are the residents who are just trying to live peacefully despite the maelstrom swirling around them, with COVID and everything else. This is unneeded stupidity,” Lopez said.

“The fact that it’s across demographic, crossing age groups, shows me it’s individuals with access to these paintball guns and an over-abundance of free time. Especially if they see other people doing it, they get the idea they can play urban commando.”

Police said shooting a paintball at someone is a felony, and is also reckless and dangerous.

“The Chicago Police Department has seen an uptick in paintball incidents across the city in the weeks leading up to Halloween,” the department said in a statement noting that 120 of the attacks happened since Oct. 1. “Using a paintball gun on an unsuspecting person is not only reckless, but also extremely dangerous. The projectiles can cause serious injuries and the shooter can be charged with a felony. CPD urges residents to stay vigilant of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to police.”

Chicago police cannot confirm is all of the attacks are connected.