LAS VEGAS » A gunman and his underage driver tried to rob a group of people playing “Pokemon Go,” triggering a shootout after one of the players pulled out his own weapon at a Las Vegas park that has become a hot spot for virtual creature hunting.
The incident early today marked the latest illustration of unintended consequences in everyday life due to the booming popularity of the GPS-powered “augmented reality” game.
Las Vegas police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said the shooting left a “Pokemon Go” player and the would-be armed robber hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. Charges are expected against both that suspect and the juvenile who was driving the SUV.
Shortly after 4 a.m., a group of six people were at a public park east of downtown playing the popular smartphone game, which sends players to physical locations to “catch” virtual Pokemon characters.
Police said an armed man and the young driver drove up to the group in an SUV and demanded their possessions at gunpoint. One of the “Pokemon Go” players who has a concealed weapons permit drew his own gun and the two sides exchanged fire.
One person in the “Pokemon Go” group was shot once in the stomach and taken to the hospital. Meltzer said it’s unclear if that person shot is also the player who had his own gun but that the group of local players knew each other.
The man believed to be the suspect also appeared at the hospital with a gunshot wound to the back. A matching SUV was also found at the hospital.
Facebook users in a few “Pokemon Go” groups have suggested the location of the shooting, Gary Reese Freedom Park, as a hotspot for a particular kind of pocket monster known as Magikarp. In postings about nearby parks that are good places to catch specific kinds of Pokemon, the park is noted as a good place to collect the fish-like creature.
Police haven’t cited a motive or said if the “Pokemon Go” players were targeted.
This isn’t the first report of robbery of people engrossed in the popular game. Four teens in St. Louis robbed victims earlier this month after luring them to a specific location using “Pokemon Go.”