Reportedly mistaking a pair of teenage Pokemon GO players parked outside his house early Saturday morning for criminals, a Palm Coast, Florida man opened fire on their vehicle. The teens escaped unscathed. The car, not so much.
According to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, as reported by The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the incident occurred around 1:30 AM outside the unnamed man's Primrose Lane home. The exact circumstances of the shooting are a bit hazy, as the man and also unnamed 19 and 16-year-old players are offering slightly different versions of events.
The man told authorities that he was awoken by a loud sound outside of his home and noticed a small white car parked outside with the brake lights on. Grabbing his handgun, he went outside to investigate. He told police that he heard something along the lines of "did you get anything," at which point he stepped in front of the car and told the occupants not to move. The man said that the vehicle then accelerated at him, at which point he ran from the road, fired several shots at the vehicle and then called the police.
When authorities spoke to the young men driving the vehicle, the account given was slightly different, as News 13 reports. The pair were parked on Primrose Lane playing Pokemon GO, when they heard someone say, "Did you catch him?" One of the teens responded to the voice with, "Yeah, did you," at which point they heard gunshots and sped home. Figuring someone had just been trying to scare them and not noticing any damage to the car once they arrived home, they did not alert the police to the incident. It wasn't until the 19-year-old's mother discovered bullet holes in the car and a flat tire the next morning that she contacted authorities.
I'm not sure who to believe here, a pair of teenage boys out at 1:30 AM, or a man who woke up, ran outside and started shooting. I'm just glad no one ended up getting shot for playing a video game.
Flagler County officials are still investigating the incident. In the meantime, they have offered some safety tips for Pokemon GO players, parents of Pokemon GO players and people with guns confused by Pokemon GO players.
- Call 911 immediately when you suspect someone is trying to break into your home.
- If at all possible, be an excellent witness for law enforcement by providing valuable information on what is occurring.
- Avoid leaving the protection of your home to confront suspects. This should be handled by trained law enforcement officers.
Pokemon GO Hunters:
- Use common sense, be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings. In law enforcement, we call this situational awareness.
- Watch where you are going.
- Do not drive or ride your bike, skateboard, or other device while interacting with the Pokemon GO app. You cannot do both safely at the same time.
- Do not trespass, go onto private property or into any area you usually would not if you weren't playing Pokemon GO.
- Understand that people can use your location to lure you to "Pokéstops" so they can victimize you.
- Take a friend with you.
- If you are a minor, check with a parent before going anywhere and tell an adult or law enforcement officer immediately if anything happens.
Parents of Pokemon GO Hunters:
- Talk to your kids about strangers and set limits on where your kids can go.
- Be aware of third-party software apps claiming to enhance the gaming experience. Unfortunately, many of these apps allow access to sensitive personal data.