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Paintball attack damages transient's sight

December 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The search is on in Orange County for several teenagers suspected in a severe paintball attack on a homeless man. The attack happened Friday night on Center Street in Costa Mesa and the victim is likely to lose sight in one eye because of it.Some of the paint from that paintball attack is still on the wall in an alley in Costa Mesa. The victim says the suspects continued shooting at him even as he was running away. He eventually made it to a nearby store, where he called 911.

"I can't see anything, period," said assault victim Gregory Dahlgren.

Dahlgren's eye is almost swollen shut. His hands, back, and legs are also injured. He says six teenage boys armed with paintball guns started shooting.

"They all pulled their guns up at me, at my face, and before I could react quick enough they got me a few times in the face," said Dahlgren. "One of them hit me in the eye, and the doctor said I probably will never regain my vision."

The 48-year-old Dahlgren lives without a home. He was reading at around 9 p.m. Friday when the attack happened near Center Street in Costa Mesa. Dahlgren says he was shot about 40 times.

"I don't know why they would pick on me," said Dahlgren. "I didn't do anything to them."

As Donald Smith looked at leftover paintballs he wondered if they were the same teens who attacked him with rocks one night.

"They've been causing trouble up and down the alley for the last couple months," said Smith.

"I think it's heinous. I mean, they get their little thrill out of doing this," said another homeless man.

Police say they don't know why the teens did what they did, but they are hoping someone knows who they are.

"The suspects can only be described right now as teenage boys between 15 and 18 years old," said Costa Mesa Police Detective Carlos Diaz. "They're male Caucasians, and all that they can describe them as wearing Levi pants and T-shirts."

"It's scary. I must admit, I hope they get caught and get called for assault," said Dahlgren.

The suspects are facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon. The victim said most of the teens were at least 5-foot-10 in height. One might have been shorter. Two had blond hair, two others had brown hair. They did not appear to have a vehicle. If you know who they may be or you have any useful information related to this case, call the Costa Mesa Police Department at (714) 754-5097.


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