PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A dangerous teen game is sweeping parts of the country, fueled by violent social media images. The sickening goal of the teenagers involved is to knock unsuspecting victims unconscious. The attacks are violent and in some cases even deadly.
The young people behind these incredibly powerful sucker-punches say this is "a game". It is called Knockout.
"This is so intense!" said Kelsey Beertheyse, a West Palm Beach resident. "So much more intense than that I was thinking it was going to be," she said.
Groups of teens, law enforcement officials says, are preying on unsuspecting passersby. One minute, someone is walking down the street. The next, a complete stranger deliberately knocks that person to the ground.
"They're probably laughing and high-fiving and everything else. It's just sickening," said Patrick Dempsey of West Palm Beach.
The disturbing trend has been reported in at least six states. Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell is aware of the disturbing trend from his days in Columbus. He said there have been a few reports in Columbus, but none so far in Cincinnati.
"I just hope these knuckleheads don't get any ideas," Blackwell said. "It's not going to be tolerated."
Could Florida be next? Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says it is not here - at least not yet. "You have teens that think this is fun, they're bored and they want to get on YouTube," said Aronberg. His office is not prosecuting any Knockout cases right now. His team, though, is prepared to do so. "Doing something stupid like this can result in severe adult consequences," he said.
"I don't understand how they can consider that totally OK," said Beertheyse.
The State Attorney said it is possible that any juvenile charged with aggravated battery in a case like this could be tried as an adult. A conviction could carry a sentence of up to thirty years in prison.
WCPO Crime and Justice Reporter Kareem Elgazzar contributed to this report.
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