News that teenagers purportedly playing “the knockout game” beat to death an elderly man in St. Louis brought back frightening memories for Karen Taylor, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Taylor’s son, Adam, was similarly targeted in a parking garage in 2009. A group of teens randomly ambushed the then-25-year-old, hitting him and kicking him as he lay on the ground writhing in pain. They told police they wanted to find an unsuspecting person and knock them out with one punch as part of a game called “Knockout King.”
There have been scattered reports of similar incidents across the country, all which fit a pattern: The perpetrators are teens, the attack is random, and the motive is a game – typically with a similar sounding name. Law enforcement officials can speak only from memory and anecdotal reports because there are no crime statistics kept for assaults in which the motive was a game. There are signs the game is more popular than researchers and law enforcement realize. A search of YouTube for “knockout game,” “king hit” and “one hit knockout” calls up dozen of videos in which groups of laughing teens film themselves punching to the ground someone who appears to be in on the joke. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce recalled at least three instances in recent years in which attacks stemmed from the game.