Two people in New York have been targeted in the past month by gangs of youths in attacks which resemble the so-called “the knock-out game.”
The most recent incident involved a 43-year-old man outside a Shake Shack at Old Fulton and Water streets in New York’s DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) on Oct. 26.
The victim was walking his dogs at around 9:15 p.m. on a quiet Thursday night when a group of teens leaving the shake Shack decided to attack him. First they threw water and milkshakes at him; then they surrounded him and knocked him unconscious with a punch to the jaw.
“As he went to tie up his dogs to confront these kids, the group distracted him from the front and then one came up behind him and hit him in the head,” a witness said.
While the man lay on the pavement, dazed, one of his attackers took a selfie with him before the group ran off into the night.
“One boy ran up and crouched down and posed for a photo next to the guy that was passed out and then the rest of the group just kind of ran off and scattered,” the witness added.
“There is no point to it, it’s crazy,” said Charisma Jano-Baptiste, 28, as she stood outside the Shake Shack where a man was assaulted.
“It’s not cool,” said a worried Shake Shack employee. “Yeah, I’m scared. What if I’m next?”
A similar attacks occurred on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Sept. 25.
Susan Farina, 53, was walking her dog near Essex and Grand streets when three young men strolled by.
“One guy was saying to the other two, ‘I’m gonna do it, yo. I’m gonna do it, yo,’” Farina said. “I still didn’t think anything of it.”
Then one of the youths attacked.
“It felt like somebody hit me with a two-by-four,” Farina said. “I saw stars.”
Farina has no idea how long she lay on the pavement, unconscious. When she got up, the three attackers were gone.
But no arrests have yet been made and the motives for the attacks are still unknown. Police are asking for help in identifying the suspects.
3 BLACKS ATTACK FEMALE WHITE NEW YORK WOMAN IN "KNOCKOUT" ATTACK. pic.twitter.com/BQ0z7o7iJ1
— james olsson (@james_olsson) October 30, 2017
Some people worry that the police are helpless in the face of such random attacks—and that potential victims have no protection.
“How do they get a handle on something like that? It’s worrisome. I’m a petite woman,” said Krystin Clark, 25, a Brooklyn student, who said if she sees a pack of teenagers, “I’m definitely crossing the street. It makes me very sad.”
New Yorkers recall a spate of similar attacks about four years ago.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force arrested a 35-year-old Brooklyn man, Barry Baldwin, for committing at least seven “knockout” assaults, all on white women, most of whom were Jewish.
Other attackers were involved though. A 34-year-old woman, six months pregnant, was knocked unconscious while walking with her sister down a street in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the middle of the afternoon. Jannatul Ferdous was not seriously injured and her unborn baby was fine.
Her attacker, a 33-year-old man named Willie Stephens, was caught a few blocks away based on the description given by Ferdous’ sister.
Another victim was hurt much more seriously. Retired cab driver Donald Lathrom, 72, was knocked out and left lying, with his brain bleeding inside his skull by an unidentified man who fled with a friend. This attack, also in broad daylight, took place in the West Village.