Josh Kegley, The Kansas City Star, April 30, 2013
ThA Transylvania University student wearing a red bandanna thought it was a joke when three men told him he was in the wrong territory and threatened to shoot him Sunday night, police said.
The student was playing Humans vs. Zombies, an organized version of playground tag popular on college campuses. Players wear bandannas to signify which team they are on — humans or zombies — and zombies are often in danger of being blasted with foam darts.
But bandannas in certain colors have been used to signify gang affiliations. The Bloods, one of the nation’s most well-known gangs, and groups inspired by it identify with the color red.
Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said the Transylvania student did not remember what gang the men mentioned.
The incident happened about 10:15 p.m. Sunday as the student was walking along Fourth Street near Transylvania’s campus. The three men pulled alongside him in a sport-utility vehicle “and advised him to remove his bandanna or they would shoot him,” a police report said.
The student initially shrugged off the warning, but the men kept watching him as he walked away, Roberts said. The student took off the bandanna and reported the encounter to campus authorities, who referred it to Lexington police.
A campus alert was sent to students Sunday night, and players were asked to take off their bandannas. The Transylvania Gaming Society, a student organization, agreed Monday to cancel the game early and think of new ways to identify players the next time, said Bob Brown, associate dean of student affairs.
Players on the zombie team typically seek out and tag “human” players, who defend themselves with foam weapons, such as NERF blasters and pool noodles, or by throwing marshmallows or rolled-up socks.
Zombies who are hit may not chase or tag humans for a short time. Humans who are tagged become members of the zombie team.
According to the rules on the game’s official Web site, Humansvszombies.org, a zombie is designated by wearing a bandanna on his or her head. Members of the human team wear headbands or bandannas around their arms or legs.