Paintball shooters hit five Anchorage pedestrians

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A group of people drove around parts of north Anchorage shooting green paintballs at pedestrians from a white Ford Explorer with tinted windows, police said.

The assaults early Monday morning do not appear racially motivated as they were in last year's paintball attacks on Alaska Natives in Anchorage, police said. The victims included men and women of different races.

The incidents occurred between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. Five victims reported being shot at in Fairview, downtown and Russian Jack sections. None were injured.

There were at least three people in the Explorer, although none of the victims got a good look at the perpetrators. No one could provide the license plate number on the vehicle.

These are the first paintball shootings reported to Anchorage police since the January 2001 attacks. In that case, Charles Wiseman, then 19, and two 17-year-old boys drove around downtown firing paintballs at Alaska Natives.

The white Eagle River youths could be heard making racial slurs on a videotape they made of the night. The incident attracted national attention and prompted a statewide dialogue on racism.

In Monday's spree, Meghan Planchon, 21, was walking home from a midtown bar with her boyfriend, 29-year-old Aaron Selbig. Both are white. As they headed north, four or five paintballs came flying their way, she said. One struck Planchon in the side but bounced off without splattering.

Planchon said the shooting was ''just random hate'' and it upset her.

''I cried, not because it hurt but it made me feel really sad that people are doing that,'' she told the Anchorage Daily News. ''I know it was probably just a bunch of stupid kids and it was their idea of fun. But it really is too bad.''

Police received three other reports of people targeted. A 33-year-old black man was shot at as he stood on downtown corner. A 19-year-old Native woman was hit on her jacket with four paintballs in Fairview. A 23-year-old Native man said paintballs almost struck him in Russian Jack.

''We want to get these people,'' said police spokesman Ron McGee.

Crime Stoppers, (907) 561-7867, is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case. Callers may remain anonymous.

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