Local News

Pokemon Go misunderstanding interrupts visit to Marine's Raleigh grave

Posted July 27, 2016 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2016 1:28 p.m. EDT

— Three people had their charges dropped Wednesday evening after they were wrongfully cited for playing Pokemon Go in a Raleigh cemetery.

Chris Gilliam, Philip Lewis and another friend visited their friend Henry Sanchez's grave Tuesday, just as they do ever year to mark the anniversary of his death.

"We came here to memorialize him," Lewis said.

Sanchez served in the U.S. Marines and died in Iraq 10 years ago.

But when the three friends tried to place pennies on his grave Tuesday, they were stopped by a police officer.

"She said, 'Do you guys play Pokemon Go?'" Lewis said. "And we said, 'Yeah.'"

Lewis said the police officer accused them of playing the game in the cemetery and then charged them with trespassing.

"She would not listen," Lewis said. "She said, "I don't care. This is an arrestable offense. I could take you to jail right now.'"

Gilliam said he took it hard.

"I almost just fainted. I was like why would we make this up? To play Pokemon?," he said. "I said, ‘You mean to tell me I won't be able to visit my friend, my best friend who was like my brother?' And I literally burst into tears.”

Sanchez's memorial bench, located near his grave, is a Pokemon marker, part of the game. But the trio said no one should be playing Pokemon there.

"It literally cut me deep, it really hurt. Physically hurt," Gilliam said.

"Have some respect for the dead so that when you pass on, someone will have some respect for you. You know?," Lewis said.

Raleigh police said they went to the cemetery to confront three people after a complaint was made through a 911 call. The caller said people were disrupting a funeral playing the game.

All charges against the friends were dropped.