At least two suspects shot a paintball gun at five pedestrians — including an elderly couple out for a walk — from a moving car Tuesday night in Palo Alto in three separate assaults, striking three people and causing minor injuries, police said.
There is no evidence that the suspects are teens or young adults, but it’s a strong assumption, said Palo Alto police Lt. Zach Perron. One of them was heard being very "cheerful" after he hit his target, police said.
“Hopefully a parent will recognize the car description and the paintball gun with green paint and take appropriate action,” Perron said.
It's the first such paintball assault case in at least three years, Perron added.
The first assault was reported Tuesday about 8:31 p.m., when a man called police to say he had been struck by a paintball shot from a moving vehicle near the intersection of Newell Road and Dana Avenue, Perron said. The man and his wife, both in their 70s, were walking along the sidewalk when a car — escribed as possibly an old light-colored or gold sedan — came up from behind them. Someone inside the light-colored vehicle fired 12 to 14 green paintballs at the couple, striking the man once in his hip and causing pain, police said. His wife was not struck.
Three minutes later, two people called police dispatch to say they had just been hit with paintballs shot from a moving vehicle in the 700 block of Melville Avenue, Perron said. A woman in her 40s said she was walking her dog and crossing the street towards Parkinson Avenue when she was struck on her hand, arm and chest by several green paintballs fired from a vehicle approaching from behind her. Then, another woman who was walking with her husband on the same block said she was struck by a green paintball on her hand. Her husband was not struck. Both women said they felt pain and will likely be bruised from the impacts, Perron said.
The women walking on Melville Avenue said the sedan looked to be about 15 years old and the suspect was likely a passenger on right side of the vehicle, the women told police. The women reported hearing a male voice yelling in a "cheerful manner" from the car as it passed by, Perron said.
Paintballs are projectiles that travel at a high velocity and can cause serious injury. Perron said that if the suspects are found, they could be charged with misdemeanor vandalism and misdemeanor battery, or felony assault with a deadly weapon, if the person is seriously injured.
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