NEW PORT RICHEY — A pickup filled with five teenagers cruised downtown early Wednesday morning. They were on their way to get cheeseburgers from McDonald's when they spied a man sleeping on Adams Street near Main Street. They shined a flashlight in his face and two of the young men grabbed their air guns — replicas of an M-16 assault rifle and semi-automatic handguns — and opened fire, according to the New Port Richey Police Department.
They shot the man 50 times, pelting him with BBs in the face and body. One shot hit under his eye, said Sgt. Howard Snyder.
The man bolted and flagged down a police cruiser that happened to be nearby around midnight. The pickup was pulled over on Main Street.
Officers determined two of the five teens were the shooters. Patrick N. Pinder, 18, of New Port Richey, and Jose Castillo-Gomez, 18, of Port Richey, were both arrested on charges of aggravated battery. Both are being held in the county jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Snyder held the replica M-16 assault rifle, which was taken as evidence, and said it is "about as realistic as you can get." He said it is unlikely someone could die from being shot with such an air gun, but warned other people who have them to only use them in proper places and with the correct gear, such as eye guards.
"You could lose your eye in a heartbeat," with one of these guns, he said.
Never pull one on a person — especially an officer, Snyder said, because the action could be returned with real bullets.
Snyder said it didn't appear that the man who was shot had serious injuries. It was unclear how much medical attention, if any, he received. As far as a motive, Snyder said it seems as though the boys saw him and decided to do it "for kicks."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.