Cheeky ‘knockout game’ back in New York: expert
The ‘knockout game’ was down – but clearly not over.
Four recent, unprovoked attacks in New York City – the latest against a 74-year-old woman – have signaled the return of the insidious ‘game’, a sick street challenge where thugs attempt to render an unsuspecting innocent unconscious with a single shot, a law enforcement expert told the Post.
“The knockout matches are back. The attack on New Yorkers is real. We have to keep our heads on a pivot,” said Michael Alcazar, retired NYPD detective and assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“It’s not just the mentally ill who commit these attacks. There are individuals who are angry, annoyed and cheeky, who know they will not be prosecuted.
At least a dozen social media assaults — done to get online attention, kick things or start a gang — plagued the city in 2013.
Although the NYPD has said it does not specifically track such « knock-out » assaults, this year there have been more than 20 « sucker-punch » incidents, according to media reports. Among them:
“He just punched me in the face, which I luckily managed to dodge. He hit me four or five times,” Medina Vargas said.
Medina Vargas said he was also hit in the head from behind on July 7 while riding the Fourth Avenue subway line with his girlfriend in Brooklyn. During this incident, he lost consciousness “for four to five seconds”.
« I’m scared to live in New York, » he said.
On Wednesday, a 74-year-old woman was punched in the face in an unprovoked attack in broad daylight in Midtown. The elderly person was discharged from the hospital and « feels well, » the victim’s niece, Josephine Abragan, told The Post on Saturday.
Gayman Hillaire, 73, was blinded in his left eye by a punch in Brooklyn in January 2020, cops said. Hillaire was walking near Kingston Avenue and Saint John’s Place in Crown Heights when he was punched in the face by a stranger just after 11 p.m. « I feel great, » Hillaire told The Post on Friday before declining further comment.
Whether the attacks are carried out by the mentally ill or thugs with ill intentions, controversial state bail reform laws encourage attackers, law enforcement said.
« It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or not. It’s just the way the streets are now,” said a veteran Brooklyn cop. “The suspects think they can do anything, and most of the time they’re right. We stop them and they come out immediately.
Former NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton – who served the city from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2014 to 2016 – said the incidents weren’t limited to the Big Apple and were happening « across the country ».
He blamed “the current criminal law climate.”
« If the person is mentally ill, they go into observation and let them out, and if they’re not mentally ill, they let them out even faster, » Bratton lamented. “There is no uniformity of punishment or uniformity of treatment for people who engage in this activity.
« What worries me is the copycat problem. People see it, see that nothing happens to people who do it, and may be tempted to do it.
Additional reporting by Joe Marino and Georgett Roberts