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Teens fatally punch man at Maryland fair in random attack, police say

September 23, 2019 - 5:03 am
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(FREDERICK, Md.) -- Police arrested two teenagers who are accused of fatally punching a man in what investigators are calling a random and unprovoked attack.

The teens, ages 15 and 16, were charged for allegedly attacking a 59-year-old man at the Great Frederick Fair in Frederick, Maryland, over the weekend, police said.

The victim, who police believe was attacked at random, was found lying unconscious on the ground at around 5:30 p.m Friday and was airlifted to a local trauma center, where he died the following day.

Witnesses on the scene said the man appeared to be minding his own business when he was approached by the teens.

"Criminal Investigators responded to the scene and interviewed numerous witnesses who indicated that the person assaulted was the victim of an unprovoked attack," the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. "As a result of the investigation, two juvenile suspects were able to be identified and were later located and arrested by the sheriff’s office."

The massive police presence at the fairgrounds led to rumors about what may have occurred. The event's organizers aimed to clear things up in a statement on its Facebook page.

"The Great Frederick Fair’s number one priority is the safety and security of our guests," the statement said. "To dispel rumors of the events of last night, while there was an assault, there was NO shooting and NO stabbing. The team of security and law enforcement was able to respond rapidly to control and contain the incident."

The 15-year-old suspect has been charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. The 16-year-old was charged with second-degree assault. However, the sheriff’s office said it was consulting with state prosecutors to determine additional charges in light of the victim's subsequent death.

Investigators said they interviewed both suspects, but the office did not release any details about a possible motive.

Law enforcement sources told Washington ABC affiliate WJLA-TV that the suspects may have been playing the so-called "knockout game" -- in which the attacker aims to knock out the victim with a single sucker punch -- but a spokesperson for the sheriff's office would not confirm those suspicions.

The violent game has been linked to assault reports in at least six states, and several people have been killed in suspected knockout attacks.

The teens were being held in juvenile custody pending an initial court hearing. It's unclear if they have retained attorneys.

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