A round of the disturbing game "Knockout" — in which teenagers try to punch out unsuspecting passersby — ended with the arrest of four suspects in a New York City neighborhood Friday.
The NYPD said the 24-year-old victim was walking in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn when he heard people talking about the game and then got walloped in the head.
As the attackers took off on foot, police officers came to the man's aid, fanned out across the area and found the suspects nearby, a police spokesman said. Their names were not released.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind — who recently convinced a 78-year-old woman to report a "Knockout" attack — praised police for their "diligence" in cracking down on the activity, which is surging across the country and has been tied to two deaths.
"I am grateful that these four thugs are off the streets and am hopeful that they will be treated with the severity of the law," Hikind said.
In New York, some of the incidents are being treated as hate crimes because the victims were Jewish, according to NBC New York.
But the stunt has been around for years and is primarily a pastime for rowdy young boys trying to impress their friends.
"It's hard to excuse this behavior, there's no purpose to this," Jeffrey Butts, a psychologist specializing in juvenile delinquency, told the AP.
"When someone runs into a store and demands money, you can sort of understand why they're doing it, desperation, whatever. But just hitting someone for the sheer thrill of seeing if you can knock someone out is just childish."
The consequences can be deadly serious:
- In September, in Jersey City, two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were charged as juveniles in the slaying of Ralph Eric Santiago, 46. He was discovered Sept. 10 with his neck snapped and his head stuck between iron fence posts, according to the AP. County prosecutors have said they believe the accused teens were playing "knockout."
- In May, in Syracuse, N.Y., a pack of teens trying to knock out Michael Daniels, 51, with one powerful punch ended up beating and stomping him to death, according to the wire service. A 16-year-old was found guilty of manslaughter, and his 13-year-old co-defendant pleaded guilty to assault — confessing he began the deadly beating by attempting to knock Daniels out cold with one blow. Both of the defendants were sentenced to 18 months behind bars.
- Also in May, Elex Murphy, now 20, was sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years in St. Louis, Mo., for killing a Vietnamese immigrant as part of the game in 2011.