Cayla Campos had a routine: Every night, her father said, the 21-year-old resident of Albuquerque loved to play Pokémon Go with her boyfriend as they drove through Bianchetti Park near her apartment.
“It boggles my mind,” the father, Carl Campos, said Tuesday night. “Most 21-year-olds are out at clubs. My daughter is out playing Pokémon Go.”
But that seemingly innocuous pastime turned deadly for Campos on Friday night as she drove along Granite Avenue while she and her boyfriend searched for digital animated creatures, according to the authorities.
Just before midnight, the police said, Campos spotted two assailants trying to rob people in a nearby car.
Carl Campos said his daughter immediately started to turn her car around when she saw that one of the robbers had a weapon. As she tried to drive away, several gunshots were fired into her car, Carl Campos said, citing her boyfriend’s account of the episode.
One of the shots hit Campos in the neck, her father said. The car then crashed into a nearby home, and Campos died from a gunshot wound, said Gilbert Gallegos Jr., a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department.
No arrests have been made, Gallegos said.
The two vehicles involved in the robbery were a red car, possibly a Ford Mustang, and a silver four-door sedan, the police said.
Detectives have not heard from the robbery victims, but they said that they had received several tips and were pursuing leads.
Campos worked as a dental assistant at Parkway Dental in Albuquerque, and her father said that she had wanted to be an oral surgeon. He called her “amazing” and “irreplaceable,” and said that since her death thousands of people had reached out to him on social media in support.
“No parent should have to bury a child, it’s not right,” Carl Campos said. “We really, really need to do something about getting funding for these smaller cities to help fight the crime because it ain’t going away.”
Carl Campos said his daughter spoke by phone with her older sister a couple of hours before her death. Her sister playfully teased Campos for still playing those “silly games,” he added.
Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game that fuses digital technology with the physical world, allows players to use their smartphones to find and capture digital Pokémon, the exotic monsters from the Japanese franchise.
In a statement, a spokesman for Niantic Inc., the gaming startup that teamed with the Pokémon company to make Pokémon Go, said, “We want to express our deepest condolences to Ms. Campos’ family and friends at this terrible time.”
Cody Bell, 21, one of Campos’ best friends, said she was kind and caring and could always get people to smile. “It’s hard knowing my best friend is gone,” Bell said. “The world truly lost someone special.”
Pokémon Go, which uses geolocation features and enables the phone’s camera, soared to the top of the download charts when it was released in 2016, but provoked some criticism. Despite safety warnings from the authorities urging players to be aware of their surroundings, there have been several injuries and fatalities connected to the game.
In August 2016, a man in Japan was playing the game while driving when he struck two pedestrians, killing one. In that same month, two men were playing at 2 a.m. on an Australian beach when they were assaulted. In November 2018, a man said he was playing in an unfamiliar area in Minneapolis when he was shot during an attempted robbery.
Mariel Padilla c.2019 The New York Times Company