Nightly News   |  January 05, 2014

Cops Crack Down on the Knockout Game

The brazen attacks on unsuspecting pedestrians just may receive harsher criminal penalties.  NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're about an arrest in the wave of the so-called knockout game attacks that has authorities around the country concerned that they may be spreading. we get the latest from kristin dahlgren.

>> reporter: they are brazen attacks on unsuspecting pedestrians. knocked out in a single punch. the video often posted online by attackers with no apparent fear of getting call. mark was simply walking in new york with his wife and daughter two weeks ago.

>> at around 5:00 in the afternoon, i was attacked by a young man with no notice.

>> reporter: while the man who attacked him is still at large, in brooklyn, 35-year-old barry baldwin is facing charges for what police say were five attacks on mostly jewish women, each with a single punch to the back of the head.

>> someone who would attack a 20-year-old girl on the way to a friend on the sabbath, on saturday, someone who would attack a 70-year-old woman, the only way to deal with it is to apprehend those who are guilty and be very tough.

>> reporter: baldwin was originally charged with hate crimes . those charges were later downgraded. in texas last month the department of justice filed hate crime charges against conrad alvin barrett for allegedly assaulting a 79-year-old african-american man and making a video take saying he was looking for a black victim to get national media attention. barrett's lawyer said he was off his medication and administration no excuses.

>> this isn't about a game at all. this is very serious and there have been some very serious injuries throughout the country.

>> reporter: many states are now looking to crack down. lawmakers in oklahoma and illinois are moving to make knockouts a felony instead of a misdemeanor. wisconsin may charge the person filming an attack and new york and new jersey are both considering upping prison time for those convicted in a knockout. which means someone like the person who attacked mark could get up to 25 years.

>> i was angry at first and then i was pretty, actually, sad that someone would think that this is amusing, that it is acceptable to just go up and punch someone.

>> reporter: disturbing attacks that officials are now looking to knock out for good. nbc news, new york .