'Knockout Game': Random Head-Punch Violence Spreads to Philly (Video)

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 11:34 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The violent "knockout game" responsible for four deaths nationally has spread from Missouri and New York City to Philadelphia after three new attacks were reported this week.

A brutal but growing trend among teens, the knockout game involves selecting a random target — usually a pedestrian who's alone — and trying to knock them out with one punch to the head.

"This type of aggressive behavior is very troubling," Catherine Bradshaw, a deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention of Youth Violence, told USA Today. "They're clearly modeling this type of behavior [seen in video games and movies]. "You get that repeated exposure and you no longer have that empathy for the target."

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The attack proved fatal for four people — one each in St. Louis, Chicago, Syracuse, and Hoboken, N.J., according to KMOV.com — and now the game is on the rise in Philadelphia.

Police are investigating two attacks this week in Lower Merion, Pa., and one in Northeast Philadelphia.

"Someone asked me for a cigarette and by the time I got my hands out my pocket I was getting hit by four kids," Mark Cumberland, one of the victims, told CBS Philadelphia. "It was hard seeing and I’m still having trouble breathing and swallowing. There’s no reason at all. I mean, I didn't get robbed, they didn’t take nothing from me. They just beat me up."

The knockout game suspects don't discriminate. A teacher in Pittsburgh was punched so hard he cracked his head on the sidewalk. In Hoboken, two 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old boy were charged with murder after fatally assaulting a homeless man two months ago. Even women are being attacked.

Investigators are trying to determine whether race plays any role in the assaults.

"The victims are someone who the young people consider to be an 'other,'" Jeffrey Butts, who specializes in youth criminal justice at John Jay College, told KMOV.com. "That could be a racial difference, it could be a religious difference, it could be an age difference, it just could be a class difference."

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