California high schoolers play the 'assassination game.' One teen gets a broken jaw

A water gun.
A water gun. Sacramento Bee File

An unofficial tradition among high school students in Turlock led to a broken jaw, an aggravated assault arrest and a letter from Turlock High School officials warning parents that possession of water guns on campus is grounds for suspension.

Known as the "assassination game," Turlock High seniors have been doing it for many years. The game involves students using water guns to metaphorically "assassinate" around town, off school grounds.

Things took a violent turn Wednesday night, when an assassination sparked a fight between two young adult males.

Caleb Norman, an 18-year-old senior at Turlock High, was sprayed by a female classmate with a water gun near Donnelly Park, the Turlock Journal reported. Norman started to record a video of her with his cellphone, at which point the classmate's boyfriend, Hunter Bettencourt, intervened and a fistfight ensued.

By the end of it, Bettencourt was taken to the hospital with serious jaw and face injuries. Bettencourt's father said his jaw required five hours of surgery, and he called for an end to the assassination game, according to the Turlock Journal.

Norman was arrested Wednesday night for aggravated assault causing great bodily injury. The arrest was reported at 10:27 p.m., according to Turlock police logs.

Norman and Bettencourt's girlfriend are seniors at Turlock High. Bettencourt graduated from Pitman High School in 2016. All parties involved in the fight are 18 or older, Turlock Police spokesman Russell Holeman told the Turlock Journal.

As a result of the fight, Turlock High officials reportedly sent a letter to parents Friday saying water weapons on campus are a violation of the school's education code. The violation is grounds for suspension.

Many schools have rules prohibiting bringing anything that resembles a firearm to campus — even if the items are not designed to cause physical harm and are designated as toys with an orange tip.

The assassination game has been around for decades (and more details about it can be found on Wikipedia). It has caused trouble recently elsewhere in California. Earlier this year, Manteca students playing the game had to be detained at gunpoint by police after witnesses reported the assassinations as armed robberies or kidnappings, the Stockton Record reported in March.