Police in North Jersey are searching for a man suspected of punching three victims Monday night in a string of apparent “knockout game” attacks.
Hackensack residents were put on alert as police hunted for a man who randomly approached and punched three people within 15 minutes, The Bergen County Record reported. The suspect appeared to be acting alone, police said.
The knockout game is a violent trend in which a group targets an unsuspecting victim and one assailant delivers a swift punch with the intent to knock the victim out.
“Someone just walks up and cold-cocks someone in the face totally unannounced, totally unprovoked,” said Hackensack Police Capt. Thomas Salcedo said, The Record reported.
The first victim, a 54-year-old man, was punched in the face and fell in a supermarket parking lot, suffering a cut on his face, police said.
About 10 minutes later, the suspect approached a 57-year-old man from behind and reportedly punched him on the right side of his face and jaw.
Three minutes later, the suspect approached a 27-year-old man and asked for directions, police said. The suspect punched the man in the face when he looked at his phone, The Record reported.
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Englewood Democrat, is the sponsor of a proposed law that would create larger punishments for knockout attackers, making it a second-degree offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
As it stands currently, knocking someone unconscious is charged as third-degree aggravated assault, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, The Record reported.
“I thought it best to get ahead of the trend,” Mr. Johnson told the paper. “I’m not going to wait for a pattern in New Jersey. It’s definitely a trend in the tri-state area. It is a problem that has to be addressed properly.”