What We Know About the Two Men Arrested for Bringing Guns to a Pokémon Tournament

James Austin Stumbo and Kevin Norton, both high-level competitors in the internationally popular card game, had traveled from Iowa to take part in the event.

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Aug 24 2015, 3:30pm

Attendees hanging out at a 2014 Pokemon event. Photo via Flickr user Nabeel H

On Saturday, cops arrested two men who may have intended to carry out a shooting spree at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, where thousands gathered over the weekend for the Pokémon World Championship.

James Austin Stumbo, 27, and Kevin Norton, 18, high-level competitors in the internationally popular card game, had traveled from Iowa to take part in the event, and were listed in the "Masters Level," according to the Pokémon website. (Their names have apparently since been removed.) Boston police say the duo was turned away on Thursday by private security after they had been alerted to a threatening message posted by Stumbo on a Facebook group called Mayhem Pokémon Crew. The post, a picture of firearms arranged on the back of his vehicle, read, "Kevin Norton and I are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!"

"Good luck," a commenter replied.

"With killing the competition?" Norton asked. (The post has since been removed.)

"Detectives were informed that the suspects had driven to the event from Iowa and were in possession of several firearms in their vehicle," Boston Police explained in a release. The duo was initially released pending a search warrant.

That warrant was served on Friday, and cops uncovered a 12-gauge Remington shotgun, one DPM5 Model AR-15 rifle, several hundred rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife in the suspects' car. Norton and Stumbo were arrested the next day at a hotel in Saugus, Massachusetts, about ten miles outside of Boston, and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, and other "firearm related charges," according to police.

Both Stumbo and Norton appear in Facebook photos on their respective pages posing with firearms—the former in front of a giant cannon, the latter shooting a handgun. Stumbo can be seen in an interview here from April after he won a Kentucky Pokémon competition.

At their arraignment on Monday, prosecutors said that Norton had threatened a Pokémon chat room moderator after being banned, and that he had also mentioned Columbine in a social media post. Meanwhile, Pokémon Company International addressed the incident on Sunday as the event was wrapping up.

"Prior to the event this weekend, our community of players made us aware of a security issue," they explained. "We gathered information and gave it as soon as possible to the authorities at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center who acted swiftly and spearheaded communication with the Boston Police Department. Due to quick action, the potential threat was resolved. The Pokémon Company International takes the safety of our fans seriously and will continue to ensure proper security measures are a priority."

Despite their assurances, some attendees say there was no indication that anything amiss had transpired.

"My bag and my friends bag were thoroughly checked on the way in," one show-goer, known as "Flea" online, told me. "I go to another event at the Hynes Convention Center, Anime Boston, and they began checking bags after the marathon bombing happened, so I was expecting to have my bag checked anyways. I didn't notice any more police or security than I usually see at an event like this."

The convention center is located a few blocks up Boylston Street from the site of the 2013 bombing, which prosecutors say the suspects had mentioned on social media.

"I didn't feel nervous at all while I was there," Flea went on. "Especially since bags were so thoroughly checked on the way into the event. It never even crossed my mind that something violent might happen. As far as maybe having been there if something had happened, well that's not really worth worrying about since it thankfully didn't happen."

"Security was pretty chill all weekend," Alejandro Ramirez, another attendee, told me. "Nothing seemed interrupted."

Stumbo and Norton are being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on September 1.

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