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Memphis Mob Attack Echoes 'Knockout' Attacks That Have Hit Tri-State

MEMPHIS (CBSNewYork) -- Violent random assaults on innocent victims known as "knockout" attacks have been making headlines in the Tri-State Area for months, and they are spreading.

In New York City, a man was hospitalized just last month after being attacked while walking home from a deli on a West Village side street.

And as CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, Memphis, Tennessee, is now dealing with a gang of perpetrators.

Police in Memphis said a mob started beating a customer as he got out of his car in a Kroger grocery store parking lot this past Saturday night.

Investigators said when two employees came to help, the teens attacked – kicking them until they lost consciousness. The attack was caught on cellphone video.

A witness who did not want to go on camera said some of the assailants threw pumpkins at one of the unconscious victims.

"They were playing a game called 'point them out, knock them out,' where they would point someone out and then attempt to knock them out or attempt to fight them," the witness said. "There was no real reason behind it."

More From CBS Affiliate WREG-TV, Memphis

There have been similar assaults around the country. An infamous video in Pittsburgh in 2012 showed a teacher being hit so hard that he fell head first into the curb.

Numerous knockout attacks have also been reported in New York City.

In the most recent headline-grabbing incident, Donald Lathrom, 72, was attacked as he walked down Jane Street in the West Village around 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11. The attacker, seemingly waiting patiently, struck with malice, knocking the victim to the ground, the video shows.

Police have not revealed a possible motive in the Memphis attack. But Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton said such violent attacks will not be tolerated.

"We're not going to accept this, 'Well, they didn't have anything to do, so they went out and formed a mob,'" Wharton said. "That dog will not hunt in Memphis, Tennessee."

Police believe as many as 125 people may have taken part in the Memphis mob action.

The Memphis police director said in a statement, "Last night's events clearly demonstrates a lack of parental controls, and if warranted, these parents will also be held accountable."

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