There has been a recent wave of "paintball wars" happening across the country and, as USA Today reports, 21 Savage may have played a role in the increase of incidents. People have been shooting each other with paintball guns and using city streets as their own personal play area. While that might sound like a somewhat harmless endeavor, bystanders are getting caught in the crossfire and two deaths have been connected to the trend already.
The rapper would often take to social media to post videos of himself with paintball guns, starting wars outside clubs or shooting at friends' cars for fun. He used it as a means to curb gun violence in inner cities and get people to swap real guns for ones of the paintball variety.
Though innocent and well-meaning at its root, it's causing problems for communities across the country. Milwaukee saw 65 reports of people being hit with paintballs in the past week, while Detroit had 95 such reports. Atlanta police had to confiscate nine guns and 7,500 rounds of paintball ammo after breaking up a recent war.
"He started the movement in an effort to stop the shootings in the inner cities," said Milwaukee Police sergeant Melissa Franckowiak at a press conference. "It’s kind of morphed into something other than what he anticipated, I think. Now these kids have been shooting unsuspecting citizens as opposed to their friends during these paintball wars."
There have been arrests in cities across the country, and the "wars" have also seen their own deadly consequences. Last month, an Atlanta teen retaliated after a paintball ambush by shooting a real gun at the cars the paintballs came from. A three-year-old passenger in one of the cars was shot and killed. Savage would pay for the child's funeral. Just a few weeks later, in Greensboro, North Carolina, a man was found shot to death in a car covered in paint splatters, and while the exact circumstances of his death are not clear, police say it was also in connection with a local paintball war.