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Pokémon Go player, upset at losing a gym, assaults other players, say cops

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Accused disputes he hit anyone; social media alleges he’s menaced other players

Man holding phone playing Pokémon Go Niantic/The Pokémon Company

A Washington state man is facing charges of assault and malicious mischief in an incident witnesses have tied to winning a gym in Pokémon Go. They say it’s not the first time he’s gone after fellow players, too.

KATU-TV of Portland, Ore. reported Friday that three friends were on a park bench in Vancouver, Wash. (across the Columbia River from Oregon) when someone pulled up in a car, parked, and charged out at them brandishing a tire iron.

The alleged assailant, Stephen Jolly, demanded to know which of the three on the bench was a Pokémon Go player who had just taken a gym in the game. “I was just reviving my Pokemon when he was trying to take it out,” said Andrew Otton. “I took it from him and I didn’t know he just took it, and he was like, ‘Hey, did you just take this gym from me? That’s pretty messed up, man.’ He was very angrily saying it.”

A friend of Otton’s said he was punched by Jolly “several times” until he took action. “I got behind him and started choking him,” said Grayson Hagstrom. “I figured if he didn’t have consciousness, he wouldn’t be that tough.” That’s a smart calculus.

Hagstrom said after posting about the incident on Facebook, with the license plate of the car Jolly was driving, they were told this isn’t the first time Pokémon Go players have been accosted in the area. The incident occurred on the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail in Vancouver, Wash.

Jolly, to authorities, disputed striking anyone but did say he hit a table with a tire iron.

Pokémon Go has been out for almost two years, launching in July 2016. Early in the craze, there were stories of players in the augmented-reality game wading into dangerous situations or being confronted — even shot at — by people suspecting them to be prowlers or criminals. This story is unusual because it allegedly involves someone playing the game going after others also playing the game.