An Upper West Side man is cold-cocked in Chelsea.
An unhinged stranger throws a roundhouse at a woman outside a subway station on the Upper West Side.
A Catholic deacon and another man are pummeled in separate smackdowns in the Bronx.
It’s up for debate whether this spate of disturbing incidents is a return of the so-called knockout game, the sick spree of assaults that terrorized New Yorkers a few years ago, but it’s a still a gut-punch to frightened residents already on edge.
One poster to the Upper West Side Together Facebook group put members on high alert two weeks ago after two friends walking past the subway station exit on Central Park West and 87th Street encountered a man dressed in black coming out of the subway. He tried “tried to sucker punch” the girl, whose boyfriend then chased him off. “My friend was screaming, ran to a building on CPW (Central Park West) where doorman called police,” the poster explained.
An Upper West Side man responded, “This is happening all over. I was sucker punched by a disturbed man in Chelsea” — and left with two black eyes.
On Monday a stranger punched a 67-year-old man in the face on a Queens subway platform in an apparent unprovoked attack, police said. The suspect walked up to the man shortly before 10 a.m. as he waited for a Manhattan-bound 7 train at the Court Square station.
“These incidents aren’t happening in front of officers. They are happening due to opportunists taking advantage of the anti-police, anti-accountability era,” NYPD Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice, the founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC and a 15-year-veteran, told The Post. “It is a dangerous time to be out and about strolling in New York City. The combination of criminals and mentally ill individuals roaming the streets equals disaster waiting to happen.
“The city needs to get back to old-school policing … high visibility foot posts and patrol,” he added.
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, noted “a number of attacks that some would term as ‘sucker punches’ against seniors and children in NYC, the most recent in the Bronx.
“It might be the power of social media that makes the perception that it’s happening everywhere, but it is a real concern that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
The NYPD, when asked if about knockout game or unproved-punch trends, said, “data is not kept to that level of specificity.”
Police in January released surveillance video of a man sucker punching a Catholic deacon inside a Bronx subway station. In the Jan. 5 incident, Frederick Kurr, 74, was having trouble swiping his MetroCard at the Kingsbridge Road D train station around 10:10 a.m. when the suspect — leaving the station through the adjacent turnstile — briefly watched him before socking him in the face, the footage released by police shows. “Don’t shout,” the attacker allegedly told the victim when he yelled for help. “I just felt like punching someone.”
The deacon’s daughter, Heidi Kurr, told The Post at the time, “To get sucker punched for no reason at all … that’s sad. I am scared for him.”
Police on Jan. 26 busted Jose Gonzalez, a 48-year-old homeless man — who has been collared six times for punching random victims — with the attack, the NYPD confirmed.
On Jan. 20 a thug randomly sucker-punched a 47-year-old man — breaking his jaw — in what cops described as a “possible knockout game” in the Bronx, disturbing surveillance video shows. The victim was walking on East 176th Street near Walton Avenue in Mount Hope just before 1:30 a.m. when four strangers passed him in the opposite direction, police said. Video shows one of the men suddenly slugging the victim in the side of the face, knocking him to the ground — without saying a word.
Unprovoked attacks in the city have some residents on edge and others looking into self-defense classes should they find themselves in the crosshairs.
“There’s a lot more crazy out there. A lot of people unhinged. What we can do is to be more aware. To be more alert,” Tsahi Shemesh, a former Israeli Defense Forces paratrooper who runs Krav Maga Experts NYC, told The Post.
“People are feeling unsafe,” Shemesh said, adding “a lot of people are avoiding public transportation. Avoiding the subways. It’s pretty clear that the city has changed its face.”