NBC10- George Spencer
Local leaders on alert, thanks to increasing evidence that shows a disturbing national trend has arrived in our area. It's called the "knockout game" and involves random assaults on unsuspecting strangers. NBC10's George Spencer reports.
Police say the beating of a cyclist along a Philadelphia street was not part of the nationwide "knockout game" trend as they initially believed.
The male victim was riding his bike along 13th and Catherine Streets in the Bella Vista section of the city just before 8 p.m. on Friday when he was randomly punched by a group of teens, police said.
"One guy and two of his friends came to shake me off my bike and started hitting me while I was down," said the victim, who did not want to be identified.
After being hit, the cyclist says he asked the group -- made up of five teen boys and three teen girls -- why they hit him. Without answering, the group then continued beating the man.
The victim met up with police at Broad and Carpenter Streets following the attack. While he was shaken, his injuries were not life-threatening and he did not need to be hospitalized.
Philadelphia detectives initially told NBC10 they believed the teens were playing the "knockout game" when they beat the man.
Far from fun, the 'game' consists of a doer suddenly punching a stranger to try and knock them out.
However, on Saturday, police told NBC10 that after further investigation they determined the assault of the cyclist was not part of the nationwide trend.
Several "knockout" beatings have taken place across the country over recent months -- with attacks taking place in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Two attacks at SEPTA stations over the past few weeks had officials in Philadelphia concerned the violent trend had come here. However, authorities also determined those attacks were not related.
The teens remain at large.
While Friday's incident was not related to the game, news of the attack still prompted several South Philadelphia residents to take their concerns to social media, calling on city leaders to take action.
The group, calling themselves "Taking Our South Philadelphia Streets Back" launched an online campaign to bring the "knockout" game to the attention of the city's leaders, including Mayor Nutter and Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
"Our citizens are sick and tired of living in fear due to teens thinking this is a game," wrote the group's leader Marc Ferguson. "I am here by calling upon the District Attorney, Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council and all of Philadelphia’s legislators to come together and KNOCK OUT, “The Knock Out Game”."
Ferguson writes that he wants the culprits to be charged with a hate crime, aggravated assault, conspiracy, attempted murder reckless endangerment and "anything else that can be added on."
"Then once this is agreed upon, we will stand as one, at a press conference and announce what we will be doing to ensure that this game is only won by us, the city of Philadelphia and it’s citizens," he wrote.
NBC10 spoke with Mayor Nutter who said that such attacks "will not be tolerated."
"I've had conversations with Commissioner Ramsey," Nutter said. "Police officers are paying attention but now that this national phenomenon is sweeping across the country, we need to nip this one in the bud."