Mom hospitalized after being targeted in TikTok 'bucket prank' at Tustin Target
TUSTIN, Calif. - What started as a normal shopping trip for one mom at Target in Tustin quickly turned into a nightmare after she unknowingly became the victim of an apparent TikTok prank that is now being investigated by police as an assault.
Lana Clay-Monaghan said the incident happened Sunday as she was shopping alone in the baby product aisle. That's when a group of young boys apparently approached her and put a bucket over her head.
"All of a sudden everything went dark… someone - I could feel their presence - put something over me. I had no vision, I couldn't hear anything… it was closing in. I couldn't breathe… I grabbed my neck and started screaming," Clay-Monaghan recalled.
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She was able to pull the bucket off her head and that's when she saw the four boys laughing and recording the entire incident on their cell phones before she fainted.
"The worst part of this for me is that the last moment that I had… asking them for help… and they were laughing at me and I hit the ground," she said.
Clay-Monaghan, a cancer survivor who is under treatment for epilepsy, was transported to a local hospital and has since returned home. She's sharing her story in hopes that others will realize how dangerous these pranks can turn out to be.
Lana Clay-Monaghan was hospitalized Sunday, March 26 after she unknowingly became the target of a group of young boys doing an apparent TikTok prank. / Lana Clay-Monaghan
Tustin police said they are investigating this incident as an assault and are reviewing security video from Target. Police have not released that surveillance video to the public.
Search "bucket over head prank" on TikTok, and you'll see thousands of videos with over 95.5 million views. Each has the same premise - someone putting a bucket over a stranger's head and filming the reaction.
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In some of the videos, the pranksters even use shopping baskets and laundry bins. The videos appear to be filmed at various retailers including Home Depot, Target, Walmart, even the grocery store.
"This can not happen, we have to talk to our children. It's not funny to go find someone vulnerable who is smaller, alone, unexpecting, and for your own pleasure, to film them to strive to get a reaction," she said.
Tustin police are asking anyone who may have witnessed this assault to come forward. No further information on the alleged pranksters was released.
Target has since issued the following statement regarding the assault:
"The safety of our guests and team members is Target's top priority. Our hearts go out to the victim of this incident and we appreciate the efforts of our team members who provided immediate assistance. We take any form of harassment seriously and are working closely with the Tustin Police Department as they investigate."
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This isn't the first such prank or challenge that's gained steam on the social media platform - there's also the Beezin' Challenge, ‘Dragon’s Breath' Challenge, and Benadryl Challenge - to name a few. What draws the 50 million daily TikTok users in the U.S. to such challenges?
"The social media space is very crowded, so in order to get noticed you have to go extreme and risky," said digital wellness expert Joanne Orlando, PhD, based in Sydney, Australia.
"One of the best ways [for people] to get noticed on TikTok is to jump onboard with the trends," she added.
As calls to ban TikTok grow in Congress amid privacy concerns, the app recently announced that it is rolling out a one-hour-a-day screen time limit for users under age 18.
However, many experts worry that such controls will not be effective.
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"Bans are like holding beach balls underwater," said Dr. Rutledge. "You can ban one platform, but another platform will always pop up."
FOX News contributed to this report.