University of Chicago police are urging students and faculty to be on alert after a series of paintball attacks left at least eight people with eye injuries in recent days.
Multiple vehicles have been involved in the attacks, which occurred on or near the school’s campus over the weekend. The attacks have mostly occurred in broad daylight, and doctors at the school’s Medical Center say it’s the most attacks they’ve seen in a short amount of time.
Several of the victims were hit in the eyes by paintballs, and although it’s unclear how severe the injuries are to the individuals involved, the projectiles can cause serious damage, exploding from the barrel of a paintball gun at 300 feet per second.
“It’s not an injury where you’ll be blurry for a little while and then recover,” Dr. Hassan Shah, a local eye surgeon, said. “These are severely devastating to eyes, and it’s very likely that many people with this injury would not recover much vision.”
Dr. Shah says that a wide variety of eye injuries can occur, including bleeding inside of the eye and a potential rupturing of the eyeball or retina.
The attacks appear to be part of a pattern of paintball incidents reported in other parts of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, according to university officials.
School officials say that a silver or white sedan has been seen near some of the attack scenes, as has a red or maroon Mercedes Benz sedan. A dark-colored or black sedan has also been seen.
DePaul University sophomore Collin Pierce says he was the victim of an attack in Lincoln Park early Monday, with paintballs striking him in the chest, hand and leg.
“I guess I’m glad that it’s not a real gun, because I wouldn’t be standing here right now,” he said. “It’s not right that people are going around driving and shooting at people on the street.”
Police are reviewing video footage to try to identify the vehicles involved, and are urging students and faculty to be aware of their surroundings at all times.