Police are looking for clues that will lead them to a man they say punched a Pokemon Go player, knocking him unconscious, in the Peace Center plaza in downtown Greenville.
Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said the Pokeman Go player was playing the popular smartphone game on the steps of the plaza at South Main and West Broad streets at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, when a man walked up to him and said, “What’d you say to me?”
After the Pokemon Go player answered, “I didn’t say anything to you,” the suspect, a black male, punched the victim in the side of the head. The player, a 29-year-old Simpsonville man, fell and hit his head on the steps, knocking him unconscious, Miller said.
Mayor Knox White said despite the incident, downtown Greenville is one of the safest places to be in the city. He said downtown attracts tens, and sometimes hundreds, of thousands of people at a time with very few incidents.
“Public safety is our No. 1 priority,” he said. “People feel safe downtown. This incident doesn’t reflect the way things are. Downtown is safe. We’re not going to tolerate that behavior.”
Miller said the police department has dedicated patrols in downtown and city garages and the city is upgrading its surveillance network downtown with high-definition and low-light cameras that can zoom to show a face or a license plate and track movement.
The upgrade is part of the city’s 2013 plan to increase security downtown after a string of robberies downtown and near the Swamp Rabbit Trail caused some to question downtown safety.
Greenville is not the first big South Carolina city dealing with public safety downtown and in entertainment districts.
Charleston passed a one-year moratorium on new bars in its entertainment district that could stay open past midnight in 2014 after the death of a man who was sucker punched on King Street and complaints from neighborhood residents about noise, parking and safety problems.
In Columbia, safety in Five Points, a popular late-night student hang-out, was questioned after Martha Childress, then an 18-year-old freshman at the University of South Carolina, was paralyzed after being struck by a stray bullet while waiting for a taxi.
Police have classified the Wednesday night incident as attempted murder because of the extent of the Pokemon Go player’s injury.
The attacker left the scene with some companions before police arrived at the scene.
Anybody with information about the Wednesday night incident is asked to call the Greenville Police Department at 271-5333 or Crime Stoppers at 23-CRIME.