While out searching for Pokémon Tuesday, two former Marines caught something much greater: An attempted murder suspect they say was touching children inappropriately at a nearby park.
Roommates and Marine veterans Seth Ortega and Javier Soch were adventuring on their Pokemon Go mobile apps in the downtown Fullerton area of Orange County, California, when Soch’s screen froze near a park, the OC Register reported.
Soch told authorities he looked up from his phone and saw a frightened woman and her three children fleeing from a man holding a fake rose.
The veterans approached the man, who appeared fidgety and told them he was looking for a homeless shelter or cigarettes, and told him he shouldn’t be bothering people in the park.
After suggesting the man seek help at nearby police station, Ortega and Soch watched as he lingered in the park area.
The veterans said they observed him from a distance and saw the suspect approach another woman, then sneakily wipe his hand across one of her two young boys’ chests.
The pair continued to follow the man to a playground, where they said they saw him grabbing one of the boys’ feet and moving his hand up the child’s leg, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“At this point, I’m running across the street and a gentleman who was walking down the street does the same thing,” Ortega told local news station ABC 7 of his efforts to stop the suspect.
The children ran back to their mother, who called 911. Ortega and the third witness stayed with the suspect until police arrived.
Authorities initially arrested a man, identified as 39-year-old Jacob Kells, on suspicion of child annoyance. Investigators later discovered that Kells had a warrant out for his arrest in Monterey County charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and assaulting a peace officer, ABC 7 reported.
Ortega told local news site Patch.com he is a single father who happened to be at the right place at the right time. Soch emphasized the importance of looking away from your phone while playing Pokemon Go.
“If I hadn’t looked over to my left and seen this guy who looks out of place, I could have missed it,” Soch told the LA Times. “The best thing I can say: Remind yourself that you are not in the phone playing the game. Look around and be more aware.”
In the Pokemon Go app, players use their camera phones to catch the fictional creatures in real-life locations. The wildly addictive virtual reality game has had some unintended ― and peculiar ― consequences since its launch last week.