Possible ‘knockout’ game victim: ‘The whole group of kids laughed’

WASHINGTON — Phoebe Connolly, a possible victim of game where teenagers appear to sucker-punch strangers, is encouraging people to think critically about how such attacks can be stopped.

Connolly was biking in the Columbia Heights area of Washington this month when she was struck. She had passed through a group of teenagers, she said, when one of them “reached out and punched me in the face.”

“The whole group of kids laughed,” Connolly told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ on Tuesday night.

She was not seriously injured.

Though Connolly had never heard of the “knockout game” before the November 15 attack, she may be a victim of it.

And she’s not the only one.

Another woman was attacked in the same area one day earlier. She, too, sustained minor injuries and was not knocked out, according to Washington police.

A police spokeswoman said authorities are investigating the two attacks as simple assaults.

“The reason that I called the police was because my understanding of teenagers is they just don’t always think about the ramifications of their actions, how they can hurt people, how they can cause problems for the rest of their lives,” said Connolly, who works on youth programs.

She found fault with the popularity of so-called “knockout” videos.

“Instead of constantly replaying them on media, or on YouTube, or whatever it is, you know I really feel like that’s just creating more of a culture of fear and polarization — instead of actually spending time thinking about why it is that people are choosing to do this and how can it be stopped and prevented,” she said.

Authorities have reported similar incidents in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Missouri.

One of the latest attacks happened in New York, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. A woman in her 70s was punched in the face by a man with whom she had no known previous contact or connection. She was treated and released from the hospital.

Authorities are working to determine whether she is a “knockout” victim, Kelly said.

Despite the recent assaults, police in New York say they haven’t yet seen evidence of a trend, though they are not ruling out the idea.

“The press has named it the so-called knockout game. We don’t discount that that exists. It’s a possibility. We’ve investigated and will continue to investigate,” Kelly told reporters Tuesday.

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