Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., was punched in the head from behind Tuesday, in what may have been one of the first instances of the "knockout" game being played in Washington, D.C.
Meng doesn't know if the game is the reason she was attacked, but considers it a possibility. "She doesn't know for sure, but you can't rule it out," Meng spokesman Jordan Goldes told U.S. News.
The congresswoman was walking home after a dinner on Capitol Hill when an unknown culprit punched her and took her Gucci purse. She wasn't able to see her attacker before falling over.
Police recovered an old cellphone that had been in the bag blocks away, near the Eastern Market Metro station. Fortunately, Meng's current cellphone, ID and credit cards were in her coat pocket. The only item of value taken was the bag.
The "knockout" game features hoodlums punching passersby – often women and senior citizens – in the head with as much force as they can muster, aiming to make them lose consciousness with one wallop. The attacks are typically committed by one individual who is observed by associates. They sometimes steal items, but frequently do not.
The sidewalks near the attack – at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street Southeast – are often bustling with residents and restaurant-goers, Goldes said, and it would be difficult to know if the unobserved culprit was accompanied by eager-eyed peers.
The theory that Meng fell victim to the game was floated Thursday by Breitbart News, which noted the similarities to game-motivated beatings.
Police investigating the crime say there's no evidence one way or another to indicate the "knockout" game was the motive.
U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus said he had "no more information to share other than we have an active, open investigation into the incident." No arrests have been made, he noted.
WTTG-TV reported Monday that two weekend attacks on women in D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood resemble "knockout" attacks reported in the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.
But D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department is trying to tamp down speculation that the attacks indicate the game's arrival in the city.
"In these incidents the victims sustained minor injuries and were not knocked out," police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said. "In one of the incidents, the attack appeared to be unprovoked. In the other, it is not clear at this time, but it is under investigation."
Watch: Kids Describe the Game to WCBS-TV: