Local News

12-Year-Old May Lose Vision In Eye After Random Paintball Attack

Posted May 18, 2004 1:13 a.m. EDT

— A 12-year-old can only see shadows out of his left eye now as the result of a paintball attack.

Authorities say a group of kids were riding their bikes on Tryon Road on Jan. 5 when they were hit by paintballs. Doctors say Chris Estes will likely lose vision in one eye because of the attack.

"We were just sitting there and a car drove by and shot paintballs at us and hit me in the eye," he said.

Chris' mother, Diane, said doctors predict her son has about a 10 percent chance of regaining his sight.

"Those first few days, I would just cry and wake up in the middle of the night and ask why," she said. "I'm really upset that people are allowed to go out with these paintball guns and just shoot at random anybody and now, he's injured for life."

Four teenagers -- John Lemons, Kyle Lindbergh, Adam Nelson and Christopher Tracy -- are charged with assault in the attack. They are also charged with shooting three Garner boys the same day.

Gotcha Paintball in Raleigh will not sell a gun to someone without a paintball mask or to a teenager without parental approval. Paintballs can move at a velocity of 300 feet per second.

"It's a very safe sport if you do studies on it. The eye injuries reported are people not playing with a mask or people not playing at all who got shot by someone at random," paintball store manager David Mutschler said.

The four suspects are due back in court on Feb. 3. The victim's parents said they do not want the boys go to jail, but they want them to do community service and pay for their son's medical bills.