'Knockout game' leaves victims critically hurt, bewildered

Metro Detroit police report instances of random street attacks by teens


HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – A potentially deadly game has made its way to Metro Detroit and in this one there are no winners.

Those who play it end up in prison and their unwitting victims end up in the hospital or the morgue.

Imagine walking down the street, passing some kids and at the last instant one throws a devastating punch that leaves you unconscious in the street, while they walk away laughing. You've just played the knockout game.

In Pittsburgh, six kids played it with a defenseless teacher, 50-year-old James Addleberger.

"The video speaks for itself, but I don't remember it happening when it happened," said Addleberger.

In D.C., a woman was the victim of a brutal sneak attack.

"He just threw a tremendous hook and got me right in the face," said victim Phoebe Connolley.

In New Jersey, a one-hit quitter ended the life of a homeless man.

Seven incidents have been reported and/or caught on video in the northeast states and now here.

"If you don't see it coming, how can you protect for it, how can you brace for it? It's far more devastating," said Hamtramck Police Chief Max Garbarino.

Hamtramck police believe Nick Veselenak is the first local victim. The homeless Hamtramck man took a near-fatal beating that has left him so severely brain-damaged that he can't tell you his story.

Story: Teens accused of critically beating man

"I think this is becoming a trend. It's very unfortunate," Garbarino.

The chief can't comment directly on the case but says they've watched this trend closely.

"It's for fun, it's for amusement when they assault someone, but it's definitely not amusement," he said.

Victims across the country include women, teens and the elderly, but mostly people who don't look like a threat to fight back.

"I can't conceive of anyone assaulting my brother for revenge or because they wanted something from him, because he would have given it to them," said Paul Veselenak, Nick's brother.

Investigators believe kids are unaware of how catastrophic one punch can be and are asking parents to send a reality check.

"It's not a game because more often than not someone ends up seriously injured, and another ends up going to prison, in many cases for a long time," said the chief.