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Rash of “Knockout Game” Attacks Continues to Plague Philadelphia

Reports of a dangerous and sometimes deadly prank called “the knockout game” have been circulating in the media over the past year.  In truth, the knockout game predates its recent burst of popularity by decades, with documented occurrences dating back to the early ’90s.  Now the “game” seems to be enjoying a Renaissance in and around Philadelphia.  In the latest incident, a man reported being attacked at the Drexel Hill SEPTA station west of the city.


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“The Old Man, His Body Just Fell”

“It’s a feeling to me that I know it wasn’t personal,” says the anonymous victim of the latest knockout assault.  “I know I don’t do anything to anybody.”

Just the same, the “game” leaves wounds behind.  Its rules are simple: approach the victim, and knock them out, hence the name.

“It’s a real shame that something like this could take place,” the victim says.  “I take anxiety medicine and it was quite a setback.”

Externally bruised and internally shaken, this man is nonetheless one of the luckier victims.

In the past, the so-called knockout game has caused serious injuries, with attacks concentrated in Philadelphia.  In December of 2013, an anonymous 63-year-old man was assaulted on the 4400 block of Wellington St. in the northeastern part of the city, resulting in several days of hospitalization for head and chest injuries.

“As they walked by my car, I heard the one say, ‘That’s an old man,’ and the other one said, ‘So what?’  So they were planning on it, plotting on it, they knew what they were doing,” a witness reported.  “It was just one punch and the old man, his body just fell, dead weight, just fell to the ground, then they probably kicked him two, three times.  His left side of the face was swollen.  His whole left cheek was out to here.  It’s sad.”
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Knockout Game Assaults in Northeast Philadelphia

The month before, three additional incidents were under investigation: two in Lower Merion, and another attack in northeast Philadelphia.

Victim Mark Cumberland recalls, “Someone asked me for a cigarette and by the time I got my hands out my pocket I was getting hit by four kids.  It was hard seeing and I’m still having trouble breathing and swallowing.”

The month before that, 19-year-olds Markus January and Samuel Hayes were arrested by Lower Merion Police on suspicion of another knockout game.  That incident involved a victim — also 63 years old — who was in the middle of mowing his lawn.

“A kid came up to him and just punching him in the mouth,” said neighbor Bruce Myer.  “He ended up laying the street with his lawnmower.”

“The kid did it on a dare,” Myer added.  “He said, ‘Give me five dollars and I’ll knock that guy out.'”

In January of 2014, a middle school student was assaulted by a pair of boys several years older.  Again, the attack took place in northeast Philadelphia.

While no knockout deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania, fatalities have occurred elsewhere.  Two teenagers were charged with the second degree murder of 55-year-old John Bannon in Louisiana this February.  In September of 2013, another pair of teen attackers in New York received 18-month sentences for simple assault, attempted assault, and second degree manslaughter in the death of a 51-year-old man.

Interestingly, nearly all of the attacks were committed against elderly men, by teenaged boys.  The knockout game seems to be both a gendered and age-specific phenomenon.

The incidents also share a random nature, with no personal connection between victim and attacker.

If you or someone you love has been charged with assault, you could be facing serious penalties including jail time and extensive fines.  You need an aggressive and experienced defense lawyer on your side.  To schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online today.

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