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Sunday, 24 November 2013

4 Men Under Arrest For Knockout Attack On Jewish Man In Borough Park

Police have arrested four men in connection with an assault in Brooklyn.

The suspects allegedly hit the victim without warning, similar to recent incidents related to the so-called "knockout game" in which mobs of young people randomly sucker-punch innocent people for fun.

Around 2:45 a.m. Friday, investigators said a 24-year-old Jewish man was surrounded by four men and punched in the face on 18th Avenue in Borough Park. NYPD officers were nearby in an unmarked police car, commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday afternoon.

The victim told investigators he heard one of the attackers say, "I'll do it to this guy," right before he was surrounded and punched, sources told CBS 2.

The suspects fled, but were quickly apprehended and taken into police custody, sources said. The victim identified the suspects, police said.

"I commend the excellent police work that we saw this morning," Assemblyman Dov Hikind said in a statement. "I am grateful that these four thugs are off the streets and am hopeful that they will be treated with the severity of the law. I urge continuing diligence in dealing with this issue."

Hate crime detectives were interviewing the four suspects — three Hispanic men and one Indian male — and the victim at the 66th Precinct, sources said.

The four men face assault charges, but those may be upgraded, CBS 2′s Don Champion reported.

The suspects range in age from 28 to 38, police said.

There have been seven so-called "knockout" or "polar bear" assaults in the Crown Heights and Midwood sections of Brooklyn since October, Kelly said Wednesday. The alternate name "polar bearing" comes from the fact that the victims are white.

Councilman David Greenfield said the attacks have targeted Jewish people, with victims ranging from a 12-year-old boy to a 78-year-old woman.

"These are anti-Semitic knockout attacks and it's not a game," said Councilman David Greenfield, who is calling on the men arrested early Friday morning to face gang assault charges.

"The message we want to send is very clear, it's not funny, it's not a game," Greenfield added. "'Knockout' is a serious attack, it's not a game. If you keep doing it you will get caught and you will get sent to prison for a very long time."

Brooklyn residents told CBS 2′s Champion that they were pleased to hear about the arrests.

"We've been talking about it a lot. People were very happy today in synagogue that it was taken care of," Ezra Brown said.

Brown added that people in the neighborhood are hoping to reclaim their sense of security.

"Up to now you could walk on a street at night and you're perfectly calm," he said. "Now you have to look behind your back."

On Thursday, a New York state legislator introduced a bill that would classify such attacks as a gang assault. Under the bill, attackers could face up to 25 years in prison and young people could also be charged as adults.

Police patrols have been stepped up in central Brooklyn in response to the incidents. The attacks are being investigated by the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force.

Kelly said several victims have not reported the incidents because no robbery is involved.

"I would like to urge anyone who has been victimized by this to come forward and let us know," said the police commissioner. "In order for us to respond, we have to have this information."

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