I had never heard of ‘the knockout game’ before I read a recent article in the local Syracuse Post Standard about the beating death of Syracuse resident Michael Daniels.
According to the article, Daniels was leaving a local area market on his way home after a side job of lawn mowing. As he headed towards his bus stop he was quickly ambushed outside of the market by a group of young teenagers who beat him to the ground and kicked him until he stopped moving. Daniels was rushed to a nearby hospital but died the next day from the wounds he received from the beating.
Syracuse Police began investigating the incident and interviewing witnesses who said a group of teenagers were playing a street game called ‘knockout’ which involves picking out a random victim on the street and beating them until they become unconscious. The object of the game is to try and knock them out with the first punch.
As police continued to talk to witnesses in the neighborhood they were told that there were five initial attackers, the youngest looking no older than ten. The first few punches the group threw at Daniels brought him to his knees. With the game seemingly over three of the attackers crossed the street while two stayed behind to continue hitting and kicking Daniels until he was motionless on the ground.
From the descriptions witnesses gave to the police they were able to find two of the teenagers, one thirteen and one fifteen, and charged them with first degree manslaughter. Because they are juveniles the police would not release their names, even though they are currently being charged as adults. There were no statements issued from the two teenagers and the police have not been able to question them since each retained a lawyer to represent them.
Wondering if this was a local phenomenon I did a little research and found that there were other cases of the knockout game, also called polar bear hunting because most of the victims of this crime are white, in four other states including Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Missouri. In Missouri, twenty year old Elex Murphy was recently sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years for his April 2011 participation in the knockout game that killed 72 year old Hoang Nguyen of St. Louis Missouri as he walked home from the store with his wife Yen Nguyen who was also injured in the attack.
As Syracuse Police continue to investigate the murder of Michael Daniels they are finding that there are at least four other possible assault cases in Syracuse that can be attributed to the knockout game. As their investigation into these other cases continues I wonder how many more cases they will find that are related to this senseless random act of violence that is certainly not a game.