TODAY

TODAY   |  November 25, 2013

Teens attack strangers in ‘knockout game’

Police are on the alert about the “knockout game”: Teenagers attacking innocent people just for fun. NBC investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.

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

>> now to a story developing in the last week or so. targeting victims at random. we struggle with how to bring the story to you because the imagines are so disturbing.

>> there were several new incidents and an arrest. jeff rossen is here with the latest on it.

>> good morning. this is something we wanted to warn you about because it keeps on happening. can you imagine walking down the street and minding your own business when someone punches you in the face for no reason at all. it's called the knockout game. teenagers knocking people out for the fun of it. they even target women and children . now cases are piling up and police across the country are on high alert. this morning, you're going to see how vicious it gets. watch this woman walking down the street. a stranger runs up and clocks her from behind. a sucker punch so brutal the victim lays on the sidewalk unable to move. in new jersey, it appears these guys filmed their own attack. the suspect laughing and bragging about it. in pennsylvania, watch this man on the right side of the screen. a group of teenagers knock him out in broad daylight. no warning at all. he drops face down on to the curb. the victim, this schoolteacher who was simply walking home.

>> i was hit with one punch that knocked me to the cold concrete. my body and face were bruised. it's a horrific thing to see. i'm fortunate i'm alive to tell you about it.

>> reporter: police fear it's spreading from san diego to st. louis and chicago. in syracuse two men were killed in possible knockout cases. in new york city , police are investigating at least seven attacks and have made one arrest.

>>> it appears these are just random acts of violence . there's no robbery. it's just simply youth making a decision they're going to try to punch somebody out. sometimes as simple as a $5 bet between themselves.

>> reporter: like 17-year-old marvel weaver who admits he played a version of knockout using a stun gun. he was caught and is now in jail.

>> it's just a lesson learned. people go along with it and one thing leads to another and it just goes all downhill.

>> reporter: downhill for the teens who do it and the victims who continue to suffer.

>> these kids are acting maybe not thinking and not knowing the consequence of what could happen.

>> reporter: here in new york city , the man arrested for playing the knockout game has been charged with a hate crime. police believe the victim was targeted because he's jewish. now as these videos end up on youtube and elsewhere online, officials are worried that they're are going to be copy cat attacks elsewhere in the country. that's why i wanted to bring this to you. they're targeting anybody.

>> maybe a severe penalty will put a little sense into some of these guys.

>>> jeff, thank you very much.