Arlington County, Virginia, police have stepped up patrols in areas including Crystal City and Clarendon, where six people have been hit by paintballs or pellets in four separate drive-by shootings in the past seven days.
“We were just walking and minding our own business, and I got hit first, right in my ear and face, right around my temple area … I got lucky with that it grazed me; it didn’t hit straight on. And then Pat got hit in the chest first, and then they just kept on coming,” said Lana Beard, of Arlington, who with her husband, Pat, were both left bleeding after being struck by 30 paintball rounds last Friday on South Eads Street near 15th Street in the Crystal City area.
“Apparently a lot of people think it sounds funny like, ‘Oh a drive-by paintball shooting.’ It can sound like a funny headline. But the cops actually took it seriously and since then, we’ve seen a lot more presence of the cops in the area, so it just feels good that they’re taking it seriously,” Lana Beard said.
Arlington police said that all patrol officers have been made aware of the four different paintball and pellet shootings that began March 16, with one person hit by pellets on South Eads Street and 12th Street. The suspect vehicle in that attack is a maroon SUV.
Two nights later, three blocks away, the Beards were hit by paintballs, and 90 minutes later two other people were also struck by paintballs in the same area of South Eads Street. Police put out a lookout for a silver-colored, older model four-door sedan.
“It’s a serious situation because had Lana been hit in the eye, she could have lost her eye,” Pat Beard said, noting that two small children were nearby when he and his wife were attacked by shooters in the passing car. “Had those children been hit, that could have been horrible.”
On Monday night, in the Clarendon area, a man walking on Washington Boulevard at N. Highland Street was struck by pellets. Police said the shots may have come from a gray or light blue small SUV.
Similar attacks in other states in past months have been linked to online social media challenges, in which the attack is video recorded and posted online.
“The night that it happened, we researched it a little bit to see just how common this was; and we had seen that it was a social media trend, and we’re not sure it’s related to that … We did try to search the hashtags to see if we could find the video, if anybody had posted it, of them hitting us, but we haven’t found anything,” Lana Beard said.
“This is a serious thing, and people need to know that it’s not funny,” Pat Beard said.