The Brooklyn, N.Y., man accused of assaulting an Orthodox Jew in what appears to be another case of the knockout game is being charged with a hate crime for the alleged attack.
Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with harassment as a hate crime after he allegedly punched the 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man Friday morning.
The unidentified victim believes he was attacked as part of the deadly “knockout” game, where an attacker aims to knock out the victim with a single sucker punch, police said.
The violent game has been linked to assault reports in at least six states, and three people have been killed in suspected knockout attacks.
The unidentified Brooklyn victim said he was walking home early Friday morning in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn when he was assaulted and heard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out minutes before one actually assaulted him, according to police.
New York City police arrested four men Friday in connection with the alleged sucker-punching. Only Marajh was charged, however, and the other three were released.
In response to at least eight attacks in the past few weeks, police have stepped up patrols in several Brooklyn neighborhoods where many Jewish people, the latest New York victim among them, have been the targeted.
Two weeks ago, a 78-year-old Jewish woman in Brooklyn was punched in the face by teens while walking down her street, prompting an investigation by the NYPD Hate Crimes Taskforce and leading a New York lawmaker to call for harsher penalties for so-called knockout game players.
Republican state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has proposed a bill that would classify the knockout game attacks as gang assaults, and would require that youths who participate in such attacks be tried as adults, facing prison terms of up to 25 years.
“These twisted and cowardly thugs are preying on innocent bystanders and they don’t care if the victims are young, old, a man or woman,” Tedisco told The Associated Press when he announced the bill. “Life isn’t a video game. These are real people whose lives are not only being put in jeopardy but in many cases destroyed.”
In response to the latest attack in Brooklyn, New York City Councilman David Greenfield told ABC station WABC-TV in New York that officials should send a message of “zero tolerance.”
“That’s why I called on the NYPD and District Attorney’s Office to literally throw the book at these individuals and to charge them with many crimes, including hate crimes and gang assault, because that’s what it is,” Greenfield said.
In spite of increased police crackdowns on the alleged perpetrators, the dangerous game appears to be spreading further throughout the country.
One unidentified Denver man told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver that he was sucker-punched when leaving a bar, which would make him one of the first people in that city to be a victim of the “knockout” game.
“These kids have effectively de-humanized others,” Former FBI special agent Brad Garrett told ABC News. “They are being drastically influenced by the groups to commit the acts.”