NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect was charged Saturday morning in a string of violent attacks in Brooklyn, known as the “knockout game.”
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, four suspects were taken into custody Friday night.
One of the suspects, identified as Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with aggravated assault as a hate crime, among other counts.
The other three suspects were released without charges.
The suspects allegedly hit the victim without warning, similar to recent incidents related to the so-called “knockout game” in which mobs of young people randomly sucker-punch innocent people for fun.
The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke out against the “knockout game” attacks on Saturday.
“If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said. “We cannot be silent.”
Sharpton said he is also speaking to celebrities about doing public service announcements to denounce the attacks.
Around 2:45 a.m. Friday, investigators said a 24-year-old Jewish man was the victim of the latest attack. He was surrounded by four men and punched in the face as he walked down 18th Avenue in Borough Park, wearing a yarmukle.
NYPD officers were nearby in an unmarked police car, commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday afternoon.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has expressed some doubts about whether the knockout game is real or an urban myth. But as 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, it certainly seemed real to the victim – who spoke on a YouTube video.
“I came across a group of people who were walking towards me, and I was able to hear them speaking loudly about this knockout game,” he said.
Kelly also told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin, “Just prior to it, (the assailants) were talking about the knockout game.”
The victim told investigators he heard one of the attackers say, “I’ll do it to this guy,” right before he was surrounded and punched, sources told CBS 2.
The alleged victim dodged cameras Friday as he left the 66th Precinct police station, at 5822 16th Ave. in Brooklyn, rushing to get home for the Sabbath.
The suspects fled, but were quickly apprehended and taken into police custody by plainclothes officers nearby, sources said. The victim identified the suspects, police said.
“I commend the excellent police work that we saw this morning,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind said in a statement. “I am grateful that these four thugs are off the streets and am hopeful that they will be treated with the severity of the law. I urge continuing diligence in dealing with this issue.”
The chilling phenomenon has now gone global, with unsuspecting victims walking and then being randomly sucker-punched to the ground.
There have been seven so-called “knockout” or “polar bear” assaults in the Crown Heights and Midwood sections of Brooklyn alone since October, Kelly said Wednesday. The alternate name “polar bearing” comes from the fact that the victims are white.
“The message we want to send is very clear, it’s not funny, it’s not a game,” Greenfield said Friday. “’Knockout’ is a serious attack, it’s not a game. If you keep doing it you will get caught and you will get sent to prison for a very long time.”
Police said they have increased their presence in the area, but people in Borough Park and Midwood said they are now much more vigilant.
“Up to now, you could walk on a street at night and you’re perfectly calm, and now you’d have to look behind your back,” said area resident Ezra Brown.
The attacks are being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
Kelly said several victims have not reported the incidents because no robbery is involved.
“I would like to urge anyone who has been victimized by this to come forward and let us know,” said the police commissioner. “In order for us to respond, we have to have this information.”
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