A South Jersey teen was assaulted Thursday night shortly after he left his home playing the Pokémon Go game on his cellphone, police said.
Just before midnight, Michael Marotta, 17, of Washington Township, Gloucester County, was walking to a friend's house and was looking down at the popular game app on his phone when two men approached him, Capt. Steve Rolando of the Washington Township Police Department said Saturday.
The men approached the teen, asked him some general questions, then as Marotta continued to walk, he was punched above one eye, knocked to the ground, then punched and kicked in the head and in other parts of his body, the captain said.
Marotta told the men he didn't have any money, and the men then robbed him of his cellphone and fled, the captain said.
The victim suffered lacerations above his left eye, had to get a staple in his head and also sustained broken ribs, according to his mother, Rolando said.
Police on Friday arrested one suspect - Mark Miller, 18, of the unit block of Auriga Lane in Washington Township. He was charged with assault and robbery and was sent to the Salem County jail in default of $10,000 bail, Rolando said.
Police are searching for a second suspect, who is believed to be a Philadelphia resident, Rolando said.
Efforts to reach Marotta on Saturday were not successful.
The 17-year-old, in an interview with NBC10 Friday, said he was walking and playing Pokémon Go when he saw two men approach him.
"As I got closer to them, they just snuck me in the eye," indicating he was punched above his left eye, he told NBC10.
He said he was thrown to the ground, punched, kicked, and the men went through his pockets, then stole his phone.
"I kept trying to get up," he told NBC10. "They would just pick me up and throw me back down."
He ran back to his nearby home after the attack.
The wildly popular Pokémon Go game has exploded in popularity since it first debuted July 6. Devoted followers have suffered injuries after falling over a cliff in southern California, been stabbed in Oregon, and a Pittsburgh teen was struck by a car, according to news reports.
Using GPS technology, the augmented reality game has sent players out to capture cartoon game creatures that are superimposed in streets, parks, stores as well as inappropriate locations such as the Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and the 9/11 Memorial.
In Marotta's case, asked by NBC10 if he had felt distracted by the game, he said: "Not really, because they [the two men] started talking to me, 'cause they were asking me questions, like where I was going to."
But still, he told the TV station he will probably "be more cautious about where I'm going, how late I go out," when he expects to play the game again.
On Wednesday night, the township police posted a notice about distracted gamers.
"Washington Township is not immune!," the post said. "Much like other communities across the country, our police department is experiencing a wide range of calls in reference people playing the Pokemon Go game. Local issues include:
"Kids walking in the grass median of the Black Horse Pike, people not wanting to leave Washington Lake Park at closing time, a sudden interest in the history of Washington Township's Olde Stone House Village, trespassing complaints on the Wedgwood Country Club, and plenty of people walking and standing throughout the Township, and throughout the night, holding their phones.
"While the game can be fun to play, players are reminded to keep their own personal safety in mind and to respect others property.
You cannot use the Pokemon Go defense if you break the law," the post read.