Threats to Pokémon event were ‘real, serious’
Iowa pair had guns, knife in car, police say
Police on Saturday arrested two heavily armed Iowa men who they said had threatened to kill attendees of the Pokémon World Championship at the Hynes Convention Center, thwarting what officers called a “real, serious threat.”
Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, were arrested in their Saugus hotel after police found a cache of weapons in the car they had driven from Iowa to Boston for the weekend’s festivities, police said.
Officers recovered a 12-gauge Remington shotgun, a DPMS Model AR-15 rifle, several hundred rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife in the vehicle. Neither Norton nor Stumbo could produce a license to carry the weapons, police said.
In social media posts on Thursday, Norton and Stumbo had threatened to kill championship attendees, police said. Rachel McGuire, a spokeswoman for the Boston police, said she could not be specific about the threats, but “they were violent in nature.”
On a public Facebook page called “Mayhem Pokemon Crew,” Stumbo posted a photo of a white sedan, with two military-style weapons crossed over the trunk.
“Kevin Norton and I are ready for worlds Boston here we come!!!” wrote Stumbo. When a group member posted wishing the two men luck, Norton responded, “With killing the competition?”
Upon hearing of the threats, investigators increased security at the convention center. Stumbo and Norton were stopped at the door and barred from entering Thursday evening.
Officers seized their vehicle, and the men were released, pending authorization of a search warrant. On Friday, police executed the search warrant and recovered the weapons. Just after midnight Saturday, the men were arrested at the Red Roof Inn in Saugus.
At the convention center on Sunday, security guards and police officers lined the entrances. Bags were being inspected at random inside the arena.
Javier Escobedo, 18, of Natick, with his game console in his hands, called the threats “cruel.”
“Why would someone want to do that?” he asked.
Attendees milled around the arena in costume after the competition ended Sunday, trading cards, playing Nintendo DS video games, and discussing the threats. Boston police officers and K-9 units weaved through the crowds.
Emma Theberge, 18, of Wayland said she was disturbed that men would target a peaceful event, mostly attended by children.
“This is supposed to be a good day,” she said.
A young woman dressed in a Pikachu outfit, Sam McLaren, 23, said she was outraged.
“Guns should be banned,” said McLaren, who had traveled from the Washington, D.C., area to attend the convention. “There’s no reason for them.”
The Pokémon Company International applauded Boston police for their quick response.
“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,” officials said in a statement.
McGuire said Boston police are proud they stopped the potential attack and said it was a “testament to how well BPD operates.”
Norton and Stumbo are each being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and other firearm charges. They are scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Boston Municipal Court, where they could face additional charges, McGuire said.
Globe Correspondent Adam Sennott contributed to this report.