Police: ‘Knockout Game’ attacks in blogger’s report unsubstantiated

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2013

Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins has contacted a local blogger, urging him in a letter to retract an unsubstantiated story about city residents being punched in the face by strangers.
Steve Mensing, who writes a blog called Rowan Free Press, said in a Nov. 29 post that older people and teenagers in Salisbury have “suffered from wolf pack attacks” in what is known as the “Knockout Game.” Attached to the post is a video clip from New Jersey.
In the so-called “Knockout Game,” the perpetrator approaches someone and delivers a knockout punch, according to national news media accounts.
Collins said no such incidents have been reported to Salisbury Police. He said he searched the department’s database and met with his criminal investigations division and found no such incidents have occurred in the city. An investigator met with Mensing on Tuesday to get more information and Mensing was found to be unaware of any specific attacks, Collins said. Mensing told the investigator about encountering a man last summer who said he had been assaulted but didn’t want to report the incident to police.
Collins asked for a retraction and for Mensing to refrain from posting about the matter in the future. The chief said the story could lead others to emulate the attacks and cause undue fear.
Mensing said in an interview with a Post reporter he believes the police department is trying to discredit him.
“I haven’t said anything that isn’t pretty well known,” he said.
Mensing said “knockout” incidents go by many names, including “sneaking” and “sucker punching,” but they all amount to assaults that he said occur in Salisbury.
He said he doesn’t believe a retraction is necessary but he might rephrase the claim to clarify he’s generally referring to simple assaults.
He said he thinks people are more alarmed at these assaults because they carry the name “knockout.”
“All I’d be willing to say is there are random assaults that happen,” he said.
He said he believes there is a discrepancy within the Police Department between what’s reported and what occurs, and he plans to file a public records request for reports of assaults and other crimes.
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said his department also has had no reports of people being randomly attacked.
“I’m not sure where his information came from,” the sheriff said. “We don’t have those reports and I don’t want our citizens to be in fear of walking to their cars.”

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.