High School Prank Turns Deadly Serious

An 18-year-old high school senior Anakin Zehring, was left paralyzed from the waist down after a tragic incident in a Walmart parking lot in Goddard, Kansas on May 11. Zehring and two friends were involved in a mock drive-by shooting, a part of a nationwide trend among high school seniors, using gel blasters to fire water-filled polymer beads at unsuspecting targets. The incident took a turn for the worse when the father of one of the targets retaliated with real gunfire.

The game, known as “Senior Assassin,” is a form of tag where high school seniors are assigned a “target” and are encouraged to “tag” their victims, usually recording the event and sharing it on social media. The game typically involves harmless weapons like water guns, water balloons, or gel blasters, as was the case with Zehring. However, police departments across the country have warned of the potential dangers associated with the gameThe incident unfolded when Zehring and his friends spotted a teenage couple walking towards the Walmart and fired several rounds of the water-filled beads at them. The girl, upon reaching the safety of the store, called her father, Ruben Marcus Contreras, informing him of the incident. The boyfriend of the girl, identified as “GB” in the police report, confronted the boys, leading to a heated exchange.

Contreras arrived at the scene shortly after, and upon identifying the boys, drove towards them as they were getting back into their car. A confrontation ensued, with Contreras attempting to open the driver’s side door of the boys’ car. His daughter, identified as “SC,” reported hearing a “loud pop” before seeing the’ car drive away and crash into shipping containers.

According to an affidavit from a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office detective, Contreras seen pulling out a firearm from his waistband and firing a round into the vehicle. The weapon was identified as a 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun. Zehring, who was driving the car, was hit and subsequently from the waist down.

Zehring, who initially thought Contreras was just a pedestrian, reported that he only realized he had been shot when his ears started ringing and he lost sensation in his legs. He crashed the car into a pole in an attempt to stop it, fearing he might hit someone. Despite his claim that he wasn’t the one firing the gel blaster, one of his passengers contradicted this, identifying Zehring as the shooter.

The gunshot wound left Zehring with severe injuries, including damage to his spinal cord and the upper part of his small intestine. He was initially hospitalized in critical condition before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Contreras was arrested four days after the incident and charged with attempted first-degree murder. He was released on a $300,000 bond.