Brazen ‘knockout game’ back in NYC: expert

Brazen ‘knockout game’ back in NYC: expert


The “knockout game” was down — but clearly not out.

Four recent, unprovoked sucker-punch attacks across New York City — the latest on a 74-year-old woman — have signaled the return of the insidious “game,” a sicko street challenge where thugs attempt to render an unsuspecting innocent unconscious with a single blow, a law enforcement expert told The Post.

“Knock-out games are back. The attack on New Yorkers is very real. We have to keep our heads on a swivel,” said Michael Alcazar, a retired NYPD detective and an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“It’s not only the mentally ill who are committing these assaults. There are individuals who are angry, bored and brazen, who know they are not going to be prosecuted.” 

Bui Van Phu
Bui Van Phu randomly attacked a 52-year-old man in Manhattan.
New York Post cover for Friday, August 19, 2022.
New York Post cover for Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jesus Cortes
Jesus Cortes was allegedly attacked by Bui Van Phu on Aug. 12.
Brigitte Stelzer/copyphoto

At least a dozen of the social-media driven assaults — done for online attention, kicks or gang initiation — plagued the city in 2013.

While the NYPD said it doesn’t track such “knockout”-type assaults specifically, this year there have been closer to 20 “sucker-punch” incidents, media reports show. Among them:

Man punches another person from behind.
Another assault occurred on August 20 inside the Kings Plaza Mall.
A 73-year-old man was blinded in one eye by a sucker punch in Brooklyn.
Donna Howell

“He simply punched me in the face, which luckily I managed to dodge. He hit me four or five times,” Medina Vargas said.

Medina Vargas said he was also whacked in the head from behind July 7 while riding the Fourth Avenue subway line with his girlfriend in Brooklyn. In that incident, he lost consciousness “for four to five seconds.”

“I am afraid to live in New York,” he confided.

On Wednesday, a 74-year-old woman was slugged in the face in an unprovoked broad-daylight attack in Midtown. The senior was out of the hospital and “feels OK,” the victim’s niece, Josephine Abragan, told The Post Saturday.

Gayman Hillaire, 73, was blinded in his left eye by a sucker punch in Brooklyn in January 2020, cops said. Hillaire was walking near Kingston Avenue and Saint John’s Place in Crown Heights when he was slugged in the face by a stranger just after 11 at night. “I’m feeling OK,” Hillaire told The Post Friday before declining further comment.

Whether the attacks are being carried out by the mentally ill or thugs with bad intentions, the state’s controversial bail reform laws are emboldening attackers, law enforcers said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or not. It’s just the way the streets are now,” said one veteran Brooklyn cop. “Perps think they can get away with anything, and most of the time they’re right. We arrest them and they get right back out.”

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton — who served the city from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2014 to 2016 — said the incidents are not confined to the Big Apple, and are happening “all over the country.”

Miller Giovanni Medina
Miller Giovanni Medina Vargas, 34, was hit in the face in Central Park.

He blamed “the current criminal law” climate.

“If the person is mentally ill, they go in for observation and they let them out, and if they are not mentally ill, they let them out even more quickly,” Bratton lamented. “There’s no consistency of punishment or consistency of treatment for the people who engage in this activity.

“What I worry about is the copycat issue. People see it, see that nothing happens to the people who are doing it, and may be tempted to do it.”

Additional reporting by Joe Marino and Georgett Roberts


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