‘Knockout’ nets arrests

Published 8:28 am Monday, December 9, 2013

WINTON – Another unprovoked assault – apparently part of a national craze known as the “Knockout game” – has netted several arrests as well as prompting Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan to issue a stern warning.

“This type of activity will not be tolerated here in Hertford County. Those participating in Knockout will be arrested and I feel certain that our District Attorney will prosecute those involved to the fullest extent of the law,” Vaughan stated.

The latest arrests involve three individuals, including one previously charged by the Ahoskie Police Department for a similar crime.

Vaughan reported that 19-year-old Kentrell Devonte Freeman of 143 Mooretown Road, Powellsville; Eric Stephenson, 22, of 1842 HWY 561 East, Cofield; and 22-year-old William McCoy White Jr. of 516 North McGlohon Street, Ahoskie were all arrested for simple assault.

“This is one of those cases where you wish more serious charges could be filed, but I must follow the letter of the law and charge them by the book,” Vaughan said. “This Knockout game has got to stop before someone gets seriously injured, or worse, killed.

“This is not fun and games;  it’s not a game that needs to be played because people are getting hurt,” the Sheriff added. “What they’re doing to innocent victims just doesn’t make any sense.”

The arrests stem from Nov. 26 incident that took place in the parking lot of a convenience store on NC 42 just west of Ahoskie. There, the victim was walking from his vehicle to the entrance of the store when assaulted by two males.

According to a report filed by Hertford County Deputy Zachery Mize, the victim said he did not recognize his attackers, but did hear them say they “got the wrong guy.” Mize’s report also showed that the victim noted his two attackers leaving the parking lot in a silver Chevrolet Impala.

“After speaking with the victim, I went into the store and spoke with the clerk,” Mize said. “He advised me that he did not see the fight, but he did hear one of the suspects say, as the two ran to the car, they got the wrong person.”

The silver Impala became a key part of the investigation as it was located at a residence where Freeman was arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 27 by the Ahoskie Police Department in connection with an assault in that town on Nov. 26.

“Mr. Freeman was later questioned about the incident at the convenience store and denied any involvement,” Mize said.

On Nov. 29, Mize view the convenience store’s video tape from the Nov. 26 assault.

“I saw a silver Impala pull up and Dominique Parker and another male get out and go towards the victim,” Mize stated in his report. “The assault happened out of view of the camera.

“I went to the Ahoskie Police Department and saw the same vehicle used in the assault there,” Mize continued. “I spoke with the owner of the vehicle, Eric Stephenson, and he stated he was the driver and did not assault anyone. Eric stated that Dominique Parker and William White assaulted the victim. Eric stated that he and Antwon Valentine sat in the vehicle.”

White, Parker (age 24 of 311 North Catherine Street, Ahoskie) and Valentine (age 26 of 121 Horseshoe Trail, Ahoskie) were arrested by the Ahoskie Police Department at the end of November for assault stemming from a pair of unprovoked attacks on Nov. 26 at two laundromats in town.

In those cases, White was charged with felonious assault inflicting serious injury, as well as misdemeanor simple assault. He was jailed under a $28,000 secured bond. Parker was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault. While being arrested, Parker assaulted a police officer, and repeated that crime upon his arrival at the Hertford County Jail in Winton. That resulted in two additional charges of misdemeanor assault and his total bond was set at $80,500 secured. Valentine was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and his bond was $2,500 secured.

The “Knockout” game, which is being reported across the nation, involves an individual or individuals, typically walking in a group, targeting a lone victim and attempting to knock them out with one punch.

To date, two people have died this year from the “Knockout” game.

Michael Daniels, age 51, of Syracuse, NY died in July from a blow to the left side of his face, which caused his head to rotate and hyper-extend to the point that an artery near his brain stem severed. A 16-year-old stands accused in that case.

In September, a homeless man, Ralph Erick Santiago, age 46 of Hoboken, NJ, was found with his neck wedged between iron fence posts along a street in that town. A pair of 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old have admitted to playing Knockout, leaving the victim where he was later found. All three face murder charges.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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