Vallejo election volunteer the victim of paintball attack; he’s not alone

The son of a Vallejo City Council member is recovering from a paintball attack.

Rizal Aliga, 22, was peppered with paint balls Wednesday about 5 pm, as he waved campaign signs at the intersection of Ascot Parkway and Redwood Street.

His mother, Rozzanna Verder-Aliga, is running for re-election in the newly formed District 1.

Rizal was volunteering to help get out the vote.

"When I saw the paintball gun I thought this couldn't be happening," said Aliga, showing KTVU three large welts on his back, still swollen and raw. 

As it turns out, Aliga is not the only one hit. 

Vallejo Police confirm they have taken at least two reports of people shot with paintballs fired from young men in a pickup truck.

"Maybe they think it's a game, like a knock-out round but it's not the right thing to do, it isn't right," said Aliga.

He chose the busy intersection because of its visibility, and found that jumping about with the signs in hand was a good workout between his graduate school classes at U.C. Merced.

During the few weeks he's been dancing on the corner, most drivers have regarded him with curiosity and amusement.

There are many honks, and occasional curses.

A few times he's had rocks thrown at him, along with one Slurpee.

But most people, Aliga says, are smiling and friendly.

Until the white Toyota Tacoma truck that pulled alongside him Wednesday.

As a former teacher at Jesse Bethel High School, his alma mater, Aliga thought they might be one-time students. 

"They open up the window, pull out the paintball gun, and fire ten to twelve shots," he described.

Shot from about 6 feet away, Aliga tried to block the flurry with his campaign posters.

"I thought I'd just turn around so my face and hands weren't hit, so I took three hits to the back and a few grazed my neck."

He doesn't think there was any political motive and he is grateful to strangers who stopped to make sure he was okay. 

"I'm just thankful it wasn't a gun."

When Aliga shared what happened on Facebook's "Vallejo Crime and Safety" page, other Vallejoans chimed in with similar assaults, also from a white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

Those included a woman hit while walking her dog, and another woman out with her children.

Considering the high homicide rate, some commenters wondered if bb guns or firearms would be next.

"I'm all about overcoming things, and incidents are what we make of them, experience is what we make of it," said Aliga.

He knows many people want the shooters caught and punished, but he suspects they are teens with too much time on their hands, and he  favors restorative justice.

"Lets sit down, let's talk face to face and say this isn't a game," said Aliga.

"Because what happens if someone unleashes their paintballs and there's real guns firing back and it becomes a real shootout?" 

Paintball sprees, whether mutual combat or random attacks, appear on Vallejo streets and social media fairly often. 

Cell phone videos of shooters unleashing paint balls at pedestrians surfaced the same day Aliga was targeted.

"People paint-balling houses, cars, people going for a job, and it's unfortunate that it's happening," he said.

With the election winding down, Aliga is suspending his sign-waving, acknowledging it's not safe.

But his takeaway message? Vote, no matter the obstacle.

"I learned in my family, never fight negativity with negativity, and if they take the low road I will always take the high road," said Aliga.