2 charged with misdemeanors in ‘assassination’ game prank gone bad

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Two people have been charged with "simple assault" for scaring a local woman with Nerf guns during an "assassination game" last week.

The Kent County Prosecutor says that Elizabeth Jacobs and Basil Wiering are charged with misdemeanors which carry a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and $500 fines.

Prosecutor Chris Becker says that the game was being played by Grand Rapids Christian High School students, but is a popular game in other areas of the country as well. He notes that a school in New Jersey was locked down once during a game.

He says that the charges are to hold people accountable for actions that allegedly went beyond "what a game should entail."

Nicole Laughlin said she initially thought she was being carjacked last week when she fell victim to the prank.  She told FOX 17 she was about to leave for work in Comstock Park on Friday morning when she a gray SUV blocked her exit from her driveway.

She then says a man jumped out of the bushes on the passenger side of her vehicle and "held the gun at my window and repeatedly shook the handle."

The Kent County Sheriff's Office says the incident with Laughlin was a case of mistaken identity.

"They approached the wrong vehicle with the wrong person in it," Detective Joel Roon told FOX 17 on Monday.

Police investigated the incident as an attempted carjacking, not realizing until they tracked the people down that they were students with Grand Rapids Christian Schools and that this was part of the "assassination game."

Becker says that with more people carrying concealed weapons, incidents with players could turn into tragedy. He says that he doesn't intend to seek any jail time with the case but to prevent future incidents like this.

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6 comments

  • Concerned Neighbor

    I find it appalling to read the comments from May 2nd when this was first reported. Blaming an innocent victim and not those that committed this ridiculous crime just blows my mind. And yes it is a crime. The two offenders are lucky that they are getting off so light. This has serious consequences and should be dealt with accordingly. Again blaming a victim who was unaware of this “game” and alone with a gun (toy or real) did the appropriate thing given the terrifying situation. Where are these parents with an apology. The victim appearing on TV was to bring awareness not shame to the two offender’s and yet many of you are shaming her. I was also disappointed in the school statement. Whether or not it was a school sponsored event, on or off school property, on or off school time is irrelevant. Those two students represent the Christian High community. I would be interested to know if the school has taken any measures to expel or deny them the opportunity and privilege of participating in their graduation ceremony. Let’s face it these two are likely to get off on probation without serving any time for their offense and will likely go off to college on their marry way in the fall while the victim and her family will continue to relive the event that is likely to cause anxiety for some time.

    • Common Sense

      Nicole Laughlin has done a great job of “marketing” this story because she is in fact the Vice President of Marketing at Meijer. What I find appalling is how badly this story has been misreported. This was NOT a “prank” and Nicole Laughlin was NOT targeted intentionally. The entire incident was an accident. The game is called Senior Assassination and it is played every year in good fun. It is basically tag, but with Nerf darts. The last student who isn’t tagged, wins. Students willingly sign-up to play and it is only played with fellow students. In this case, it was supposed to be a student who is a neighbor to Nicole Laughlin. The same day the incident occurred, Nicole Laughlin went to at least two different news outlets to give her account. This was not made in an attempt to “warn” Grand Rapids or out of concern for the safety of the students. It was a grab for media attention and she was able to spread a one-sided story without any of the necessary details.

      • Concerned Neighbor

        Common sense, you already made that statement. Keep up on conversations. Check the mlive board where you first made that argument. Once again I’m finished with these posts. You can defend the offenders and trash the victim all day long. Make sure you feel that same when if your family is the recipient of a crime.