Students defend 'Assassin' game after road rage incident
Posted: 03/28/2012 02:07:09 PM PDT
Updated: 03/28/2012 02:15:17 PM PDT
High school students all over the country play a prankish game called "Senior Assassins," described by many as competitive and cutthroat.Rules vary, but the intent is always the same -- eliminate your opponents by drenching them with water.
A game in Modesto caught widespread attention last weekend when a case of mistaken identity touched off a road rage incident that sent a man to jail and his wife to the hospital.
Lodi resident Benito Victory was arrested Friday after chasing a car full of Modesto High School teenagers for nearly three miles before crashing his truck in north Modesto, according to police.
Victory, who had been doused with water by the teenagers as he was waiting at a stop sign, said he was an innocent bystander and that his wife became a victim of a juvenile game.
The students saw Victory's truck and mistook it for one that belongs to a fellow classmate and opponent in the game. When they drenched him using a high-powered water gun, they said, Victory became enraged and chased them until he crashed.
Victory later was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence. His wife was hospitalized.
Modesto High School senior Mehnoor Haseeb said she and about 130 classmates started playing the game three weeks ago. Each student paid $5 for a chance at a prize totaling nearly $700.
Mehnoor was not in the vehicle involved in the incident with Victory.
"In general, it is
not a dangerous game," she said. "That was one incident that occurred, and I hope school officials and police don't get a bad picture of it." Mehnoor feels the game is safe. Victory thinks otherwise.
He said he chased the teenagers because he wanted to get their license number and report them. He was soaked, his wife was wet, and water got on some electronics in his truck.
He said he did not fire a gun from his vehicle -- as a witness claimed. Police did not find a gun in his truck.
In his view, his wife, Alleana, was the victim.
She suffered facial contusions and other injuries when Victory lost control of his pickup and the vehicle rolled over. She was treated and released at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.
Victory said they had celebrated their anniversary Friday.
"It's being made out to seem that I am at fault," he said. "I was just an innocent bystander in a children's game that should not be allowed."
Victory's lab tests on his blood alcohol content are pending. He said he had taken a Vicodin earlier that day.
Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy Tom Letras said Sunday that other people were put in danger when Victory chased the teens for three miles after the prank. A better option was to report the incident, he said.
Nevertheless, Letras called the game "potentially dangerous."
To play the game, Modesto Christian High School graduate Chris Renteria said, teams of five or six students are formed and compete in an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracket. After a week, the teams with the most players left -- those who haven't gotten attacked -- move on.
The attacks can happen almost anywhere. School, work and church are safety zones, Renteria said.
Students find each other using the school directory or perusing Facebook for opponents who've "checked in" at public locations.
Mehnoor, the Modesto High student, said the game is a tradition that helps seniors bond and let loose toward the end of the school year when final exams and preparing for graduation become stressful. Some students look forward to the game upon entering high school.
Eric Schuller, a school resource officer at Enochs and Johansen high schools in Modesto, said he has heard "Senior Assassins" has been played for more than 25 years in Stanislaus County.
It is played all over the country, organized on Facebook pages and promoted through Twitter.
One student from Pennsylvania tweeted this week, "The next 8 weeks of my life will (be) a merciless slaughterhouse. Good luck potential targets, alls fair in love and war."
Schuller said he doesn't take issue with the game itself but rather the message it sends to students.
"I don't think it is a good idea to bet money and try to go out and 'kill' your opponents," he said.
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