Shooting close to home linked to Joe Mixon: What is ‘dart warrior’?

Shooting close to home linked to Joe Mixon: What is ‘dart warrior’?
Shooting close to home linked to Joe Mixon: What is ‘dart warrior’?

Police and school administrators have issued warnings to teenagers for years about the annual tradition of “dart wars” or “Nerf wars.” They were worried that someone might get hurt.

Now, some Anderson Township residents suspect an actual shooting Monday was connected to the game. Police radio traffic recorded on Monday suggests the same.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has released very few details about the incident on Ayers Road involving a home associated with Bengals running back Joe Mixon. Dispatch documents show the youth was hit in the leg by a bullet or bullet fragment and was taken to an area hospital. No arrests have been reported and no names have been released.

A neighbor, Tracy Schaeper, told Enquirer media partner Fox19 that her son’s friends were out playing Nerf wars when she said they entered the property bound for Mixon the night of the shooting. She said she heard about seven real gunshots that night.

Just after 8:30 p.m., a Hamilton County dispatcher said in a filed recording that someone had called 911 from the area of ​​Ayers Road and had “seen several males and females running at this location … One of them pulled out a gun and ran toward the back of the building, several gunshots were heard. A man with a gun was seen running, getting into a Jeep … Two other vehicles involved … they fled at high speed.”

Less than three minutes later, a deputy came over the radio: “It’s juveniles. They’re having dart wars. Everyone slow down.”

Warning issued in February

In a newsletter to parents sent Feb. 17, Turpin High School Principal David Spencer addressed dart wars. Turpin is in the Forest Hills School District along with Anderson High School. Anderson officials confirmed Monday that the juvenile injured was a student there.

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Spencer explained that this is a student-led activity that is not school-sponsored. He said the game cannot be played on school grounds or interfere with education in any way.

He encouraged parents to talk to their children about safety. He said the game has led to students hiding around homes, driving recklessly and making unsafe decisions. Over the past few years, the sheriff’s office has received calls at least once each year about dart wars.

“Many of the Nerf guns and homemade devices look like a real gun to a person watching from afar,” Spencer said. “In the world we live in today, it can cause extreme anxiety and some reaction that was unintended by our young adults.”

What are dart warriors?

Spencer explained the game in his newsletter. Students organize teams and collect registration fees. Pairs of teams face each other each week, usually in a bracket-style elimination. They shoot each other with the popular foam dart guns to earn points. The entry fees are usually split between the winners or the top teams.

The tradition is not specific to Forest Hills. Many students in the area organize games, some going back almost 25 years.

In 2016, Lakota’s game made headlines for having a risk rule: a student could not be shot if that student was naked. The specter of striking minors led administrators there to call the game “risky” and “dangerous”.

Butler County police warned 2020 students not to take things too seriously. Hamilton Township police reported that students dressed in all black and painted their dart guns black to make them appear more real.

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“Nobody wants anybody to get hurt,” Chief Scott Hughes said at the time. “We want you to have fun and enjoy it. Just use some common sense and be a little responsible.”

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