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Pastor voices concerns over Pokemon Go players on church property

KILLEEN, TX (KXXV) -

A Killeen pastor is concerned after several Pokemon Go players have been on church property recently to play the game.

The Tabernacle Baptist Church is a Poké Stop, which is a location where players can collect digital items, such as Poké Balls, that allows them to catch more Pokemon.

"Every day since Saturday, we've been having people come on, just playing the game. Not being malicious or anything but just playing the game,” Pastor Robert Sperbeck said.

According to Sperbeck at least three people have been on church property, such as the front yard and parking lot, to play the game.

“That's the hard part we want to be welcoming to people but it's not normal for people to walk up to our property because this is not a sidewalk right here. It's a highway,” Sperbeck said.

According to Sperbeck, he has seen two people walked across Highway 195, which is a road in front of the church. In addition, some people have driven in their cars.

"We're here when people need us. We just want people that don't need to be here to stay off because this is private property. We don't want to be liable for any injuries or to be honest we don't know if they're going to use it for a rouse to get on our property for other reason. We don't know,” Sperbeck said.

The liability concern comes in part because Sperneck said the church is currently under construction and the front yard players frequent has holes. 

"We're here when people need us. We just don't want people on our private property that don't need to be here, just to play a game, to potentially get hurt or inadvertently injure someone else by driving through. We have kids here so that's our main concern," Sperbeck said.

Sperbeck who lives on church property with his family said there have been attempted thefts in that location in the past before the game came out and was designated a Poké Stop. Now, he worries with the additional traffic, not being able to know who is there to play the app.   

Two Pokemon Go players in Killeen who have visited Poké Stops, such as churches, colleges, grocery stores and colleges understand they can be asked to leave.

“As long as it is in his property. I think he has the right to tell people, he doesn't want them there. I would hope he would understand it's all in fun and as long as people are playing it responsibly, not playing it while they're driving. I would say he should let them,” Zachary Ziolko said.

He said they usually go to a local college but they have only been asked the reason they're at that location. However, he added he might think twice about it before going to stops on private property again.

“As long as no one has a problem with it. Then I don't see why not. If someone tells us to leave, we'll be respectful and leave their property,” Ziolko said.

Another Pokemon Go player, Cory Bentz, said he will likely continue visiting stops.

“Most likely if I see someone, I'll ask them for permission or be very respectful of their property. if they ask him to leave, I will say ‘yes sir, yes ma’am' and I'm going to leave," Cory Bentz said.

Sperbeck said he may be forced to put a sign on the church property to keep players from entering. However, he said that wouldn’t be their preference.

He has also been researching how to remove his church as a Poké Stop. Places where people gather have been selected as Poké Stops, including churches.

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