TODAY   |  November 23, 2013

‘The knockout game’: Police probe attacks on strangers

Police say young men have made sport of trying to knock people out for decades. But now, there’s the internet. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we do begin this half hour with a disturbing rash of assaults a that have cross the country on high alert. people say rdom in the street are being punched what could be something called the knockout game. katy tur explains joot attacks are posted online. part of a game known as knockout. ens trying to impress their friends by sucker punching unsuspecting strangers. robin williams said he was attacked in new haven, connecticut, this week.

>> came by me awfully close. i turned. he hit me right in my mouth.

>> reporter: police say young men have made sport of trying to knock people out for decades. it's just that now there is the internet. i spoke with police commissioner ray kelly here in new york where four men are being investigated for similar assaults. what will be your message to any kids who might want to do i from seeing these videos?

>> you're going to get arrested if do you it. you stand a very good chance of being arrested. but it's always the phenomenon we have to be concerned about.

>> reporter: weaver says he was playing knockout when he was shot twice by the man he was trying to punch in lansing, michigan. now weaver is in jail.

>> just a lesson leard. somebody just throws out like, ok, you want this? and you go along with it and one thing leads to another and just goes wnhill.

>> reporter: in september in new jersey two young teenagers were killed with killing this man after police found the 46 yered wi 46-year-old. although only a handful of assaults across the country, lawmakers are looking for harsher penalties as law enforcement agencies step up patrols for those playing a dangerous and disturbing game with potentially deadly consequences. for "today," katy tur, nbc news, new york.

>>> such a wild thing. when we started talking about it yesterday in our meeting, i just heard about it earlier. my son is 7, i should point out, on monday, where he take the tae kwon do. they were saying be careful and here are things to protect yourself.

>> one more thing out there.