‘We are now a lawless city’: Recent spate of random assaults, ‘knockout games’ plagues New Yorkers

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NEW YORK, NY – New Yorkers are reeling from a rash of recent, apparently random, attacks on citizens, leading some to wonder if the “knockout game” is returning.

A 47-year-old man suffered a broken jaw in January after being sucker-punched in the face in the Bronx.  Police described the attack as a “possible knockout game.”

Also in January, Catholic Deacon Frederick Kurr, 74, was sucker-punched as he attempted to swipe his subway card inside a Bronx subway station.

Video footage shows a suspect, who had been standing at an adjacent turnstile, punching Kurr in the face.

The suspect reportedly told Kurr not to call for help, and he also told his victim:

“I just felt like punching someone.” 

Jose Gonzalez was later apprehended for the assault.  Gonzalez is a 48-year-old homeless man with a history of six previous arrests for “punching random victims.”

Another “unprovoked attack” occurred on a Queens subway platform in March, when a 67-year-old man was punched in the face.  The victim was treated on scene by EMS, and the suspect fled.

Also in March, a 65-year-old woman in Manhattan was knocked to the ground and “viciously” kicked and stomped in the head by an attacker.

In addition, on Easter Day in April, victim Judith Thomas, 75, suffered a “random assault” when an attacker punched her in the face as she was walking down a Harlem sidewalk.

Thomas told the Daily Mail:

“This was crazy, this attack. It made no sense. He didn’t say anything to me, he didn’t go for my purse, nothing. 

“It was just acting out in sheer anger and hostility.”

In another interview, Thomas discussed her theory on the direction crime seems to be taking in the Big Apple, telling CBS New York:

“In the ’70s and the ’80s, when we had a spike in crime, I was a crime reporter back in those days.” 

She added:

“It seems like we’re going back to the bad old days.”

According to the New York Post, fearful Upper West Side residents have taken to social media to share concerns and stories.

One Facebook poster reportedly described an incident from two weeks ago, when a girl and her boyfriend encountered a man exiting the subway station at Central Park West and 87th.  The man “tried to sucker punch” the girl, and her boyfriend chased the suspect away.

Another Facebook commenter wrote that he suffered two black eyes after an incident, saying:

“This is happening all over. I was sucker punched by a disturbed man in Chelsea.”

Retired NYPD Sergeant Joseph Giacalone, who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, advised the New York Post that there are “a number of attacks that some would term as ‘sucker punches’ against seniors and children in NYC.”

He added:

“It might be the power of social media that makes the perception that it’s happening everywhere, but it is a real concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Some have characterized these apparently random assaults as a possible return of the “knockout game” of days past, in which attackers would slug randomly chosen victims in an attempt to knock them out.

The NYPD has been unable to confirm the re-emergence of the “knockout game,” as “data is not kept to that level of specificity.”

Others believe that current anti-police sentiment in police-defunded New York City has played into the rise of these attacks.

NYPD Sergeant Joseph Imperatrice, a 15-year veteran of the force, and the founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC, told the New York Post:

“These incidents aren’t happening in front of officers. 

“They are happening due to opportunists taking advantage of the anti-police, anti-accountability era.”

He went on to say:

“It is a dangerous time to be out and about strolling in New York City. 

“The combination of criminals and mentally ill individuals roaming the streets equals disaster waiting to happen.”

Imperatrice continued:

“The city needs to get back to old-school policing … high visibility foot posts and patrol.”

Upper West Side resident Jacqueline Bolier appears to agree that  “old school policing” is necessary.

She told the Daily Mail:

“I carry pepper spray because we are now a lawless city and need to police ourselves.”

She added:

“The attackers are generally mentally disturbed people with nothing to lose. 

“There are no mental hospitals and no foot patrols taking place by police.”

Like Bolier, other local residents are exploring self-defense options in light of the recent spate of attacks.

The New York Post reports that many are looking into self-defense classes to protect themselves.

Tsahi Shemesh, former Israeli Defense Forces paratrooper and current Krav Maga instructor, advised the Post:

“There’s a lot more crazy out there. A lot of people unhinged. 

“What we can do is to be more aware. To be more alert.”

He added:

“People are feeling unsafe.”

Shemesh continued:

“[A] lot of people are avoiding public transportation. Avoiding the subways. 

“It’s pretty clear that the city has changed its face.”

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Protests erupt in police-defunded New York City, NYPD captain has his life threatened

NEW YORK CITY, NY– Over the last several days, protests have broken out in New York City and on Saturday night, April 18th, videos circulated social media of protesters threatening the life of NYPD Police Captain Delgado.

In one of the posted videos, a protester can be heard yelling:

“You’ll get (expletive) clapped, Delgado.”

According to reports, getting “clapped” means getting murdered if someone does not watch themselves.

Protesters were out in large numbers over the weekend, yet COVID-19 measures still do not allow restaurants to have full capacity. Rioting is allowed, but dining out is not.

ABC7 New York reported that on Wednesday night, April 14th, an NYPD sergeant was elbowed in the head on the Upper East Side. Police said that the incident happened at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and East 76th Street around 9 p.m.

The sergeant suffered a cut to the head. The individual who reportedly struck the officer in the head has since been identified as Mikael Bucknavage.

Bucknavage is a 23-year-old public school teacher and was charged with assault on a police officer, riot, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and possession of a graffiti instrument.

According to authorities, Bucknavage was one of eight people arrested during the protests that evening. Seven others were arrested. Police said:

“After they engaged in violent behavior and were observed breaking multiple windows of businesses, yelled and harassed outdoor diner, and made graffiti on multiple buildings.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that he is demanding jail time for all individuals that were arrested. He said in a statement:

“I’m past asking. I’m actually demanding at this point. They need to go to jail. They need to be held accountable. They were arrested for misdemeanors. They cannot be prosecuted. We are going to follow these arrests. A misdemeanor in New York State, you’re eligible for up to a year in jail. Well, I can’t think of anyone that deserves a year in jail better than that.”

However, Bucknavage was reportedly released without bail. A prosecutor asked for supervised release, but the educator was released without bail and no terms of supervision. 

Before he appeared in court, sources stated that Bucknavage called his girlfriend and told her how to log onto his Department of Education email, pretend to be him, and let his boss know that he would “be out sick” Thursday.

The city Department of Education refused to say where Bucknavage works, stating only that he is no longer in the classroom. The Department of Education also declined to comment on his past and current arrests.

Bucknavage was previously convicted of another case of assaulting a police officer during a protest in July 2020.

The New York Post reported that some of the graffiti that was sprayed by the group said things like, “Kill cops,” “(expletive) the cops,” and “ACAB,” which the group sprayed on walls, doors, and cars. Shea said:

“You had an incident on 76/77 Street, Fifth to Madison, last night where a number of arrests were made. You had windows broken, at least one window broken. You had people’s cars graffitied. You had people spray painting, “kills cops?”

He added:

“Kill cops?” This is why we have memorials for cops because, as I’ve said, and you’re probably tired of me saying that, but I’m not going to stop saying it, words matter and spreading hate.”

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