Investigators are currently trying to determine when a potentially-deadly knockout "game" has sparked an assault in NYC, as opposed to attacks that are simply the usual random violence.
At a press conference today, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said there have been seven such attacks—namely, in which a victim is beaten over the head by one or more assailants— in Crown Heights, as well as one in Borough Park, though police are hesitant to characterize the extent to which the attacks are part of a larger pattern.
In one instance, police arrested a man for hitting a stranger on the subway, but determined that it was unassociated with the trend. "He asked for the time, the victim didn’t give him the time—or somehow disrespected him— and he hit him...We asked whether it was part of this game and he said 'no,'" Kelly said.
He echoed his earlier statements that any victims should report the case to police immediately, to better aid the investigation. "We’re concerned about it, because the public’s concerned about it, but again, we’re trying to gather information," Kelly added.
The most recent attack took place in Borough Park on Friday, as 24-year-old Shmuel Perl was on his way home from work. Perl said he first heard a group of men discussing the knockout game, with which he was familiar from earlier news reports, before finding himself boxed in. "As I'm walking on the sidewalk, the group surrounded me and one of them with a closed fist hit in me the face." Perl said. "They called after me, 'Come back, I can do this. I can knock you out.'" Police arrested four men in connection with the assault, though only one was charged.
In the meantime, the Internet has already produced its own helpful guide on how to know when you're about to be knocked out. "As I understand it, the M.O. is to surround, distract, and strike from behind," one Reddit user wrote. Other commenters remain skeptical that this is even a real phenomenon. Said another: "I'm pretty sure the only new thing about knockout is the media coverage."