Squirt gun game drenches Miami County town — but not on school grounds

Milton-Union High School students Dylan Cross and Ryun Schlecht participate in Liquidation. CONTRIBUTED

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Milton-Union High School students Dylan Cross and Ryun Schlecht participate in Liquidation. CONTRIBUTED

Video after video captures a similar scene across West Milton: An unsuspecting high schooler lets down their guard, only to get sprinkled —or worse, soaked — by a squirt gun-wielding opponent.

A new round of “Liquidation” began at 3 p.m. Thursday, strictly off the grounds of Milton-Union High School, where dozens of students flooded across the Ohio village of 4,630 residents and armed themselves with water guns.

“It’s definitely brought a lot of us closer,” said Lauren Craig, a senior. “Not knowing the underclassmen, but us going after them and them going after us, it’s made us get to know each other better.”

The game is simple: two-player teams — 47 in total — are paired against other teams with the goal of squirting the target team, while avoiding getting shot by a different team. It must be caught on video. The surviving team after three days wins.

A $2 per player entry fee bankrolls T-shirts for the winners, who split the remaining purse.

Craig, who intends to study at Ohio University this fall, co-organized Liquidation Milton with friend and fellow high school athlete Bri Stone, who will attend Wright State University.

Liquidation began when they realized students at other schools in the northern Miami Valley were having a blast.

“A lot of schools, like Tipp (City) and Troy, they do it,” Craig said. But quickly she added that not everybody is on board.

“Our (school) administrative staff said it promotes gun violence,” she said. “I don’t really see how a neon-colored gun filled with water would promote gun violence.”

The students approached the school administration about the game several weeks ago, shortly after the non-fatal January shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School, said Superintendent Brad Ritchey.

MORE: West Liberty school shooting victim has over 100 pellets in his body

Administrators said no, arguing the game could be a disruption.

Ritchey would “stop short of saying” the game promotes gun violence, but said, “I feel like — if there were an incident — in the media the perception of our community could be turned around to ask, ‘why did you condone this?’”

Indeed, the concept of targeting and filming classmates getting shot with fake guns could unsettle some in the age of school shootings, look-alike firearms and social media murders.

This week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, announced the company would task 3,000 people to monitor the site for livestream murders, suicides and other objectionable content.

MORE: Facebook ramps up its response to violent videos

Meanwhile, local media report the Cleveland police union announced plans to file a lawsuit against toy gun manufacturers after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by an officer while playing with one.

But the Milton-Union kids don’t seem concerned with all that — or at least a quarter of them don’t. One out of every four kids at Milton-Union plays the game, based on organizer numbers and state enrollment data.

“We weren’t really expecting so many kids to participate in it,” Craig said. “It pushes people out of their comfort zones.”

The students decided to proceed anyway with organizing the game away from school, but the rules may reveal a desire to keep out of trouble.

🔫 pic.twitter.com/YAXIGcA4Tx— Milton Liquidation (@Liquidatemilton) April 19, 2017

Initially, Stone and Craig established a Twitter account and tweeted a set of eight rules.

Those rules — “We stress do not do it on school grounds!” — were followed up by another set of seven rules which, at times, read more like disclaimers.

“We are NOT responsible if the cops get called on you or if any of your personal belongings get messed up or ruined.”

The additional rules include one more directive: “NO ONE CAN BE SHOT ON PROM DAY!!!”

Asked if he felt it was a good thing the students were getting to know each other better, as Craig suggested, the superintendent paused.

“I feel like that’s positive,” Ritchey said. “I know the students you’re talking about, and they’re great kids. They’ve done a lot for the district. They’ve accomplished a lot in their life here.”

“I’m glad they’re participating in activities that are bringing them closer together.”

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