Teen’s Murder Outside LeBron James’ School Came After Use Of $70 Water Bead Gun, Akron Police Say

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Police in Akron, Ohio announced Wednesday that the murder of 17-year-old Ethan Liming outside LeBron James’ I Promise elementary school appears to have been “provoked” by the use of a water gun that Walmart sells for $70.

According to preliminary findings, the Akron Police Department believes Liming was in a car with three other teens who were “riding around the surrounding area shooting a SPLATRBALL Water Bead Blaster at objects and possibly unsuspecting people.”

Police say Liming and his friends seem to have pulled into the I Promise parking lot and “appeared to have targeted or approached the subjects who were on the court and fired the gel soft gun at them.”

“The collective actions of the teens in the car appear to have unfortunately provoked the altercation,” investigators said of their findings while adding that “While these actions appear to have played a role in the incident, investigators do not believe the attack or the murder were remotely justified.”

Ethan Liming death I Promise School water balloon gun
Akron police say 17-year-old Ethan Liming was beaten to death in a parking lot outside LeBron James’ I Promise school after an incident that included the use of this water gel bead gun that allegedly triggered the deadly beating / Getty Images / Akron Police Department

As for allegations spreading amongst the community that Liming was targeted in a racial attack, investigators say there’s no evidence “to suggest the incident was in any way, racially motivated.”

Bill Liming, Ethan’s father, said this week that his son was murdered by three black males. “My heart’s broken,” Bill told the Akron Beacon Journal. “We don’t want any other children, or anybody else, to be hurt in that area. It’s not safe. It’s not secure.”

While the Akron Police Department says the use of the water gun appears to have “provoked” Liming’s beating, Chief Stephen Mylett said in a statement that “This incident is yet another senseless loss of human life in Akron.”

The SPLATRBALL Blaster has been a huge success on TikTok where it has racked up over 500 million views with kids (retailer suggests 14+) and even police having water bead shootouts.


EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE ONLY! PSA for my students. PLEASE WATCH AND FORWARD. #foryou #foryoupage #officercraig #AHS #fyp #fypシ #splatrball #airsoft #school #sro

♬ original sound – Officer Craig

LeBron James sent out his “condolences” on June 3 “to the family who lost a loved one” and added that “My the heavens above watch over you during this tragedy! Pray for our community!”

Police now say it wasn’t a tragedy and are characterizing this incident as a murder.

CrimeStoppers is currently offering a $5,000 reward in the case.

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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  1. Well, there goes the other side of the story. I would say shooting at a random group of guys is worthy of an ass whoopin but once the dude is knocked out you’ve won. You got your revenge and then some. The extracurricular kicking, stomping, and punching after dude is laid out is taking it way too far.

    If Ethan got punched, fell, hit his head on a curb and died, that’s one thing. These other dudes not coming forward to tell their side of the story leads me to believe they head hunted his ass while he was out. Forensics/autopsy will clear things up.

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