Crime

Homecoming pranks have been ‘escalating’ as charges filed, Gulfport police say

Gulfport police PIO Sgt. Joshua Bromen
Gulfport police PIO Sgt. Joshua Bromen jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A decades-long tradition of “Junior-Senior Wars” during homecoming week at Gulfport High School has escalated from rolling yards with toilet paper, and it’s leading to arrests, police said.

Juveniles assaulted a man who tried to intervene while they damaged his property in a paintball attack Saturday night, Gulfport Police Sgt. Joshua Bromen said.

About 12:55 a.m. Monday, police conducted a traffic stop and found four juveniles who had been pulling pranks with paintball guns at other houses, Bromen said.

Police were talking to the youths when the man who was assaulted Saturday night came to the scene of the traffic stop at Courthouse Road and Kahler Street, he said. The man told police the juveniles struck him, though Bromen said it wasn’t clear if he was struck by hands, elbows or paint balls.

Police gave summons to the youths to appear in court. The juveniles were released to their parents’ custody.

Police gave citations to all four for violating curfew. Two of them each face a charge of malicious mischief from Saturday night’s incident.

Gulfport High plays Hancock High for its homecoming Friday night.

The “Junior-Senior Wars” before homecoming typically involve pranks.

“It’s not just rolling a yards anymore,” Bromen said.

“It has been escalating and it’s got to stop. It’s just a matter of time before someone is killed.”

Parents also are committing crimes by not being responsible for their children, he said.

“The parents are just as much a part of this,” Bromen said.

“These kids aren’t out after midnight with paint balls and toilet paper without their parents knowing about it. Some say it’s a right of passage, a tradition. But people are getting hurt, property is being damaged and juveniles are essentially ruining their future.”

Parents who assist or participate in illegal acts will be arrested, he said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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