Victoria Hyatt says her husband was attacked in such a way by a stranger in downtown San Diego on Tuesday.
As her husband waited to cross the intersection at 2nd Avenue and Ash Street, Hyatt says a man walked up beside her husband and then, out of nowhere, punched her husband in the face.
“And as soon as he hit him as hard as he could, he just kept walking,” Hyatt told NBC 7 San Diego. “It was like nothing had happened.”
Hyatt says her husband was in complete shock and never saw the attack coming.
“[The man] was dressed like any other young man downtown. He had a nice dress shirt on, a nice pair of slacks,” she said.
When Hyatt learned the assault on her husband may be tied to the fast-spreading “knockout” game, she couldn’t believe it.
“I had never heard of this before,” she said, adding that something like this could happen to anyone.
“It appears to be a relatively new trend,” said San Diego Police Department Officer Jim Johnson.
Officer Johnson says that while police may not be tracking “knockout” incidents locally just yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
And he says people need to understand the seriousness of the so-called game.
“First of all, it’s a crime, just the initial act itself,” he explained. “But let’s say that person falls down, hits their head and dies. Then, that means you’re probably going to go to jail for life.”
Hyatt says the attack on her husband should serve as a warning to others to always be on alert.
“Be more aware of who’s around you – what’s going on around you,” she said.
As for those who think this is a game, she has another message:
“Knock it off. Knock it off. You’re hurting a lot of people and it’s not a game. It’s not a game.”
Hyatt says her husband is recovering and luckily, he’s okay.
She says he called police immediately after the attack and officers were able to track down the man who hit him. However, so far, no charges have been filed.
Cases of “knockout” have been reported around the country, with many of the assaults caught on camera in places like New Jersey, Missouri, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
In Pittsburg, a teacher suffered life-threatening injuries from a “knockout” punch. In Chicago, a 62-year-old grandfather was actually killed from injuries sustained in an attack linked to the dangerous game.
Earlier this month, a 78-year-old woman fell victim to the game in Brooklyn, making her the ninth reported “knockout” victim in New York. Authorities in New York have been investigating the incidents as hate crimes.
The alarming trend began gaining national attention in May after a group of teenagers in Syracuse, N.Y., allegedly knocked out a 51-year-old man and stomped on him. The man died from his injuries.
In New York, reports of recent “knockout” incidents have prompted community leaders to call for an end to the violence.