MOUNT HOPE, the Bronx (PIX11) — The NYPD on Thursday issued a warning against carrying Bead Blasters air rifles used in TikTok’s “Orbeez Challenge,” after a similar weapon was found near the scene of a city correction officer’s alleged fatal shooting of a Bronx teenager.
It’s still unclear if the teen actually had the bead blaster gun in his hands at the time of the shooting. Police told PIX11 News they’re still looking into the specifics.
“Bead Blasters shoot gel water beads propelled by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle. Air rifles are a violation in NYC & are unlawful to possess,” the department wrote in a tweet, including a photo example of an orange and gray gun. “Violators found in possession of these will be issued a criminal summons & the weapon will be confiscated.”
The warning was issued hours after a “water pellet-like weapon,” which has reportedly been used in the popular “Orbeez Challenge” TikTok trend, was found near the scene of a deadly shooting in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx.
Raymond Chaluisant, 18, was found unresponsive with a gunshot wound to his face at the corner of Grand Concourse and East Tremont Avenue around 1:35 a.m. Thursday, police said. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital, according to police.
Dion Middleton, an off-duty correction officer, was arrested on charges of murder, manslaughter, and criminal possession of a weapon, authorities said. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced his arraignment Friday.
“My office is committed to a thorough and transparent investigation of every case where an officer of the law may have caused a death,” James said. “I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Chaluisant, and the people of New York have my pledge that we will work to see that justice is served.”
Middleton, 45, has worked for the Department of Correction since 2013. He was most recently assigned to the firing range at the department’s academy but was suspended following his arrest, according to DOC Commissioner Louis Molina.
The department linked the Middleron to the shooting after watching surveillance video.
Sources told PIX11 News he went to work after the shooting and never reported it. Allegedly he told detectives he did not want to be late to work, and that he was going to tell a supervisor later.
“These very serious charges are in no way a reflection of the officers who work to keep our city safe every day,” said Molina in a statement. “This officer will be immediately suspended without pay, and if the charges are true he will face the full consequences of the law and be terminated.”
Investigators determined that the shooting itself happened at Morris Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway, where they recovered a single shell casing. A “water pellet-like weapon” was also recovered after falling out of an SUV connected to the incident, authorities said, though it was unclear to whom it belonged or whether it was found near the first or second scene.