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.
He said there was no question that the game was the motive for the attack, New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
"He makes a statement that he was punched in the side of the face," Kelly said. "He also makes a statement that just prior to it they were talking about the 'Knockout Game'."
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.
Teens in Beating Case Tried as Adults
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.
The woman's daughter, who wanted to remain anonymous, told "Good Morning America" that she found the violence senseless.
"Someone wanted to inflict pain onto someone else," the woman said. "No other purpose."
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.
In Washington, two people were randomly punched in separate incidents but suffered only minor injuries and did not lose consciousness, while two similar assaults in Philadelphia also have police on alert.
In September, Ralph Santiago, 46, of Hoboken, N.J., died from injuries resulting from a suspected knockout attack that sent him careering backward into a fence, where his head got lodged.
Three teens -- two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old -- have been charged with murder.
In late May, two teenagers admitted to fatally beating and killing a man in Syracuse, N.Y. They admitted that the attack began with the intention of knocking out the victim, Michael Daniels, with a single blow. Both teens, 16 and 13, were sentenced to 18 months in jail.
And earlier in May, Elex Murphy, now 20, was sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years in St. Louis for killing a Vietnamese immigrant as part the game in 2011.
Surveillance footage has also gone viral of another attack from 2012, in which a 50-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa., English teacher named James Addlespurger is struck and falls limply to the curb.
Experts say the violent acts appear to be driven in part by a pack mentality and peer pressure put on the perpetrators.
"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."