New York teenager Raymond Chaluisant, with big toy water gun on TikTok, killed by correctional officer

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A New York City prison officer has been charged with the murder of a Bronx teenager, who was shot in the face in an incident where a toy gun featured in a recent TikTok trend may have played a role in his death.

Raymond Chaluisant, 18, was found unconscious and unresponsive with a gunshot wound to the face from a gun fired by off-duty Dion Middleton in the Bronx near the Cross Freeway intersection Bronx and Morris Avenue around 1:35 a.m. Thursday, a New York Police Department spokesperson told The Washington Post.

After police found him in a friend’s car about half a mile from the scene of the shooting, Chaluisant was transferred to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Middleton, 45, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.

A spokesperson for the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the union that represents him, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. It’s unclear if Middleton has an attorney.

Correctional Commissioner Louis A. Molina said in a statement to the Post that Middleton had been suspended without pay and faced termination if convicted. Middleton has been with the New York City Correctional Service since 2013, according to the agency, and works at the shooting range which is part of the department’s academy.

“These very serious charges in no way reflect the officers who work every day to keep our city safe,” Molina said. He added that the incident was under investigation.

Although authorities did not specify what they believe to be the motive, investigators said they are investigating whether a pellet gun found on Chaluisant contributed to the fatal shooting. The toy gun shoots water gel pellets.

As of Friday morning, there was no evidence that Chaluisant fired or pointed the toy gun at Middleton before the correctional officer shot and killed the teen, authorities said.

Chaluisant’s older sister, Jiraida Esquilin, told the New York Daily News that her brother was involved in a water gun battle with friends on a hot summer night.

“They were just having fun,” said Esquilin, 29. “It’s a new nerf gun that shoots water. The whole neighborhood was fighting with water guns. It was 90 degrees.

Amplified toy water guns have been popular in recent months, thanks to the ‘Orbeez Challenge’ on TikTok, which encourages users to buy Orbeez soft gel or waterballs, load them into airsoft guns and fire them. on people when they least expect it. this. Some of the videos posted on TikTok and YouTube since the spring, which have garnered millions of views, show young people firing toy guns from moving vehicles.

Although the toy squirt gun is considered safer than airsoft guns that fire plastic pellets, police cracked down on teens participating in the Orbeez shootings which authorities say caused serious injuries. Dozens of arrests linked to shootings with toy guns have been reported across the United States, from Florida to Utah.

The toy water gun trend has also recently become deadly. In Akron, Ohio, 17-year-old Ethan Liming was killed in a fight last month after the teenager and a few of his friends fired a SplatRBall water bead gel gun at a group of four playing basketball outside NBA superstar LeBron James’s I Promise School, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Hours after Chaluisant’s death, the NYPD tweeted a warning about the use of bead guns.

“Bead Blasters fire gel water beads powered by a spring-loaded air pump, making them an air rifle. Air rifles are a violation in New York City and are illegal to possess,” a writes the department. “Offenders found in possession of these will receive a criminal summons and the weapon will be confiscated.”

Esquilin told the Daily News the family is still mourning the loss of her father, who died five months ago. She remembered her brother as someone who was well-known and well-liked in their Bronx neighborhood who was “just hanging out and having a good time” before he was killed.

“I can’t believe a corrections officer killed my brother,” Esquilin said. “Everything these days is a rage thing.”

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