, Salem, MA

March 25, 2014

Londonderry officials concerned about Assassins game

By Doug Ireland
Staff writer

---- — LONDONDERRY, N.H. — With the arrival of spring, police and school officials are concerned Londonderry High School students could get hurt playing the popular target-shooting game Assassins.

That’s what nearly happened last week in Merrimack, N.H., when a teenager hit another student’s car twice while trying to avoid being hit with a squirt gun.

“We do not endorse it,” Londonderry High School principal Jason Parent said. “Those are the very things we are nervous about.”

Assassins, which can also involve airsoft guns, has been popular in Londonderry for years, but can problematic, according to Parent and Detective Christopher Olson.

Students have escaped serious injury in the past, Parent said, but he believes it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Olson agreed and said Assassins can be disruptive.

“It can be a dangerous game,” he said. “We get calls about people running around the neighborhood.”

Olson said his department receives at least a couple of complaints a week in the late spring and summer. Some residents think the toy guns are real, he said.

Students usually pay to participate and are assigned a person they must track down, while avoiding the individual assigned to shoot them. The games can last for days.

Olson and Parent said the participants become easily distracted as they try to dodge their opponents. The players pose a threat to their own safety and that of others, they said.

In his 11 years as a Londonderry High administrator, there has been at least one serious incident each year, Parent said. None have occurred on school grounds, where the game is prohibited, he said.

Parent said it is fortunate no one has ever been seriously hurt, but there have been plenty of close calls.

One year, a Londonderry student backed a car into a granite post trying to escape, he said. Another time, a student ran into a school bus safety bar, breaking it.

On one occasion, a student hid in a pile of leaves at a bus stop, waiting for the victim, and could have been struck by the bus, Parent said.

In Merrimack, police issued a warning to high school students about the dangers of playing the game and charged two teens with reckless driving. The game was later called off.

At Londonderry High, Parent said playing the game has been a junior class tradition. Students know they are not allowed to play it on school grounds and respect that rule, he said.

“We are holding our collective breath that no one gets hurt,” Parent said. “These are good kids.”