JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thomas Florence has a knot on the side of his head from what appears to be another round of the "knockout game," something happening across the country in which the object is to try to knock someone out in one punch.
It happened twice in Arlington on Tuesday.
Thirty-one-year-old Florence went to Walgreens on Merrill Road at Townsend Boulevard in Arlington to pick up diapers and medicine. On the way out, he stopped at a Redbox.
Florence said he was looking at what movies to rent and was fixated on that when all of a sudden he saw someone out of the corner of his eye. The next thing he knew, that person punched him right in the side of the face.
"I was kind of stunned for a second," Florence said. "I didn't realize what was going on. And then I ran after them."
He said it was four teenagers, one of whom had a white puppy. He raced inside the store and told the cashier to call 911, then jumped in his truck after them.
Florence said he spotted the kids near Terry Parker High School and did a U-turn, but they were gone.
Police said the incident mirrors a recent similar one at a Hess gas station nearby, also involving four teens and a white puppy. One of the teens punched a disabled man one time and they ran away.
Another local man described being a victim of "knock-out game."
Michael Carraway told Channel 4 he was also ambushed at a gas station on Merrill Road. Carraway told Channel 4 that a group of men walked up to him Tuesday night and out of the blue punched the side of his head extremely hard.
"One hit, he was doing his best to knock me out," said Carraway.
Carraway said he remembers falling to the ground on his knees and that the four suspects took off laughing after Carraway was hit. Somehow, Carraway said he made it to a police officer at a nearby Publix.
"(I) found out that they had hit someone about an hour, hour and a half prior to me the same night," said Carraway. "Somebody's going to make a mistake one time and they're going to kill someone by doing something like this."
"If you're knocked out and knocked unconscious, you can be robbed, you can be sexually assaulted, anything can happen. So you have to just be on the lookout," Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said. "And be aware that there are these type of people who exist and try to be ready for them as much as possible."
"It was kind of a wake up call that I need to be more aware of my surroundings," Florence said. "Not only that, but also the fact that if they can do that to me and not knock me out, they're most likely going to go after somebody who they can knock out, like someone smaller, a female or a younger person."
Florence said the thought of it happening to his girlfriend or kids is nauseating.
"It really just kind of turns your stomach and it makes you feel vulnerable," he said.
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