By Julian Hattem - 12/26/13 03:10 PM EST
The Justice Department is charging a Texas man with a federal hate crime after allegedly breaking the jaw of a 79-year-old African-American man.
According to the department, Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, was playing the “knockout game” when he attacked his victim.
The game, during which people attempt to knock out unsuspecting targets with one punch, has been highlighted in media reports across the country, though some police departments have been skeptical about its prevalence.
“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement. “Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law.”
Officials charge that on Nov. 24, Barrett punched the victim, whose name was not released, laughed and said “knockout” as he fled the scene. The scene was allegedly captured in a video on his cellphone, which he showed to others.
Barrett had previously commented in a video that “the plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?” the department claimed.
Because the victim’s race was part of the motive behind the attack, Barrett is being charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
“It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin,” FBI Special Agent Stephen Morris, who is leading the investigation, added in a statement. “We remind all citizens that we are protected under the law from such racially motivated attacks, and encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”
If convicted, Barrett faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the Justice Department, attacks similar to the knockout game have been recorded dating back to 1992.