High School Prank Turns Tragic

Goddard, KS – An 18-year-old high school student, Anakin Zehring, was left paralyzed from the waist down following a tragic event in a Walmart parking lot in Goddard, Kansas on May 11. Zehring and two of his friends were participating in a mock drive-by shooting, a popular trend among high school seniors across the country, using gel blasters to shoot water-filled polymer beads at unsuspecting individuals. The situation escalated when the father of one of the targets responded with actual gunfire.

The game, dubbed “Senior Assassin,” is a version of tag where high school seniors are assigned a “target” and are encouraged to “tag” their victims, often documenting the event and posting it on social media. The game usually involves harmless weapons like water guns, water balloons, or gel blasters, as was the case with Zehring. However, police departments nationwide have cautioned about the potential risks associated with the game.

The incident occurred when Zehring and his friends noticed a teenage couple walking towards the Walmart and fired several rounds of the water-filled beads at them. The girl, once inside the store, called her father, Ruben Marcus Contreras, to inform him of the incident. The girl’s boyfriend, referred to as “GB” in the police report, confronted the boys leading to a heated argument.

Contreras arrived at the scene shortly after, and after 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, referred to as “SC,” reported hearing a “loud pop” before seeing the boys’ car drive away and crash into shipping containers.

According to an affidavit from a Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office detective, Contreras was 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 paralyzed 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 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 a $300,000 bond.