But the 17-year-old suspect arrested in the case says he wasn't playing the game.
"It was open-handed and I didn't punch him,” said Leon Thomas, Jr. “So you didn't try and knock him out?” “No, sir!"
Police say the incident at the Martin’s location had similarities to incidents they've heard about nationwide. But they acknowledge unless someone readily admits he’s part of the "knockout" game, they can't officially say there's a connection.
The suspect’s father, Leon Thomas, Sr. insists there is no connection and he doesn't want his son to be lumped in with a crowd that takes aim at the unknowing, the innocent.
"Stand up and make it known that my kid is not that type of person,” Thomas said. “He made a mistake, yes, but he's remorseful and willing to accept whatever consequences, and I don't want punishment for something he wasn't doing."
The younger Thomas says that Friday night he slapped a man carrying groceries to his car, violating a rule he says his mom and dad had instilled in him, to always keep your hands to yourself.
Thomas, Jr. says he and a few of his friends came up with the idea but he says he acted alone.
"It was Friday night and I was acting stupid,” he said. “I picked the wrong thing to do."