Police believe they may have averted a bloodbath at the Pokémon World Championships in Boston at the weekend, after they arrested two gamers who had driven from Iowa to play in the event, allegedly with a stash of guns and ammunition in the boot of their car.
James Stumbo, 27, and 18-year-old Kevin Norton appeared at Boston Municipal Court on Monday on firearms charges. They were arrested on Saturday after security staff at the Hynes Convention Centre, which was hosting the Pokémon tournament, alerted the authorities to “threats of violence” that had been made over social media.
When officers searched Stumbo and Norton’s car, which was parked close to the convention centre, they found a Remington shotgun and an AR-15 assault rifle, for which the suspects lacked the proper licences, a hunting knife and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Stumbo posted a picture of the vehicle with the weapons in the boot on Facebook last week, while Norton had joked online about “killing the competition”.
Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald, the commander of the Boston Police Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Analysis, described the incident as a “very real threat”, adding: “The detectives and collaborating agencies did a great job in the stop and prevention of a potential tragedy.”
The two men had been due to compete in the competition and their arrests left the Pokémon community in shock. One commentator on the website Pokebeach, a forum for fans of the game, read: “Such a shame people aren’t taking this as seriously because ‘It’s Pokémon, people still play Pokémon?’”
Invented in Japan in 1995, Pokémon grew into a global empire of Nintendo video games and trading cards. The most recent games released last year sold more than three million worldwide in the first three days .
Video game and trading card players from more than 30 countries took part in the invitation-only annual contest at the weekend, competing for a top prize of $25,000 (£16,000).Reuse content