An ISU student who said he was the victim of the "knockout game" last Saturday night said he wants others to learn from his experience.
Tony Behnke, sophomore in agriculture and life sciences education, said he was walking northbound on Stanton Avenue at 4 a.m. Sunday when he was punched in the head.
Behnke said he was walking home when a black Buick four-door car drove slowly past him.
“No one else was around me. I figured it was just kind of an awkward coincidence. 'I thought I’m just freaking myself out',” Behnke said. “When I noticed that the car was driving slowly on the road to my left, I heard footsteps behind me. I figured it was probably just someone out that had been drinking.”
Behnke said that he continued walking and even sped up, but the suspect — whom Behnke described as a 6-foot-tall African American male with dreadlocks — continued to closely follow him.
“I turned and looked at him to just kind of make eye contact. He stayed behind me pretty close but he never jogged in front of me. At one point in time I even stopped to let him pass and get in front of me, but he just stood there,” Behnke said.
Behnke said he was on the sidewalk outside of Es Tas Bar and Grill when the man punched him on the left side of his head near his temple, knocking Behnke to the ground.
“Right after he punched me I was able to pick myself back up and watch him get back in the car. At the time I had adrenaline pumping so it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would,” Behnke said. “He definitely hit me a lot harder than I thought he did.”
Behnke said the next day at work he had a severe headache and told his boss what had happened to him the night before. Behnke’s boss drove him to the police station to file a report and then to the emergency room where Behnke was diagnosed with a concussion.
"I was in the ER and my nurse came in, and she had a puzzled face and she asked ‘what exactly happened to you again? You’re not the only person here today that had the same thing happen,'" Behnke said.
Behnke said he spoke to the other victim who was hit on the corner of Hayward Avenue and Knapp Street. Behnke said the man who attacked him was in the passenger seat of the Buick while the other suspect was sitting in the back passenger side according to the other victim.
“He had gotten punched ten minutes before I had gotten hit,” Behnke said. “The guy that hit him got out of the back seat came up and upper cut him.
"They didn’t follow him at all; he had a pretty nice gash on his jaw.”
Geoff Huff, investigations commander for the Ames Police Department, said they received two reports of similar incidents over the weekend. Huff said both Behnke’s report and the other victim reported suspects getting out of a black, four-door Buick. The suspects were both African American males who did not appear to be driving the car.
Huff said anyone who may have information about the suspects or incident should contact the Ames Police Department.
“Occasionally we get someone driving up, words are exchanged and they get in a fight. This is very similar to what you hear about the "knockout game" where you randomly walk up to somebody who’s not expecting it and smack them in the head,” Huff said.
Both Behnke and the other victim said they feel as if they were victims of the "knockout game."
“They didn’t steal anything. They didn’t try to take anything. They didn’t do anything other than laugh and get in the car and drive off,” Behnke said.
Behnke said he wants other students to learn from this incident that they should take steps to protect themselves. Behnke said he urges other students to use the Help Van, a service provided by the Department of Public Safety to provide free assistance.
“What I’m going to take away from this is to not be out any later than 2 a.m. walking home alone. At 2 a.m. the bars close,” Behnke said. “After that, it kind of just dies down, and I don’t believe the cops stay over there that late. If it’s beyond 1 or 2 a.m. please walk with a friend or just don't walk at all and stay where you’re at.”
“The kind of things you hear on the news are real, and it’s scary,” Behnke said about the "knockout game."