ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Seeing a man crumpled in the gutter, not far from a group of a dozen young men walking away, Mayor Slay and his police officer driver pulled over to investigate.
What they found at Grand and Utah, where restored Victorian homes surround a busy nightlife district, was a man around 50 lying face down in a pool of blood. Slay says the victim to him looked “like he couldn’t harm a fly” and his friend, another man, appeared to be innocent of any wrongdoing.
“What they described to me was the knockout punch,” Slay said, “This group was just walking by and one of them just out of nowhere without any notice, without any words being exchanged just swung and hit the guy and knocked him out.”
It happened Friday night after eleven o’clock, as the Mayor was on his way home from an event. Slay’s police officer driver confirmed that there was no apparent robbery. The victim’s wallet was still in his back pocket when they arrived.
A Police report of the attack indicates the 51-year old man suffered injuries to his face and he was taken to an area hospital where he was in “stable” condition. Witnesses told police a group of ten-to-fifteen black males and females, all aged between 15 and 20, were seen in the area. One young man reportedly ran from the scene when a witness pulled toward the sidewalk.
It’s the latest flare-up of a game that St. Louis police say has been a problem off-and-on since 2008. In April of this year, 18-year old Elex Levell Murphy was charged with first-degree murder, assault and two counts of armed criminal action in the alleged knockout game death of a 72-year old Vietnamese immigrant.
Hoang Ngueyen and his 59-year old wife were walking in an alley near their south St. Louis apartment around 10:30 in the morning April 16, when they were approached by a group of four people. Police at the time said their investigation showed the attack was part of a game which involves “unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders.”
Reacting to the latest violence, Slay was visibly frustrated. “It’s very disturbing to me,” Slay said, “And it’s something we’re very, very concerned about and the people in that neighborhood are very concerned about it.”
Slay said he planned to talk with the police chief about the assault, but also urged residents to help deter such attacks.
“And when you see a group of 12 to 15 youth hanging out, walking together, not really doing anything in particular, that’s something I think you should call the police just so these kids, these thugs out there know they’re being watched.”