Kristian Gonzalez has been arrested and charged in relation to a brutal knockout attack in Paterson, New Jersey, that was caught on video and went viral on the internet last week.
The 18-year-old Gonzalez surrendered to police on Tuesday after video circulated showing him in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack on an elderly man. Police said they have arrested another 16-year-old who allegedly participated in the attack, recording video of the knockout and reportedly encouraging Gonzalez to strike the man.
Police said they likely would have never tracked down Kristian Gonzalez were it not for the video, which shows the teen’s face.
“It would’ve been a cold case,” Police Director Jerry Speziale told NorthJersey.com.
Police said they were light on evidence after the knockout attack, which took place December 7. The victim, whom police have not been able to identify, was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and released.
— Kay (@KayFusion) February 5, 2016
Investigators said it was the viral knockout video that fueled their search, with both the juvenile and detective divisions working together to identify the suspect and interview people near the scene.
“They treated this like a homicide,” Speziale said. “They did not stop.”
Police also received many tips from the public, prompting them to release a statement last week saying that they were trying to hunt down the suspect.
“The Paterson Police Department has seen the assault video that has recently been posted on Facebook and another social media websites. We want to thank all the concerned citizens that have shared and reported the disturbing video to us We are currently investigating the video and will update the public as to the outcome.”
Video of the Paterson knockout attack was shared on Reddit, where it gained hundreds of user upvotes and many angry comments. It was also shared on both local and national media, with outlets calling for anyone with information on the attacker to share it with police.
— New Jersey 101.5 (@nj1015) February 5, 2016
Last week was not a good one for people videotaping heinous crimes. At the same time as the Paterson knockout video went viral, another disturbing video surfaced showing a teen boiling a pot of water and then throwing the scalding water onto his cat.
After the video hit the internet, police in Chicago were able to track down the alleged perpetrator, 18-year-old Leon Teague. He was arrested and charged with one felony count of animal torture and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.
NBC Chicago reported that Teague was arrested within two days of the video being posted to Facebook.
Like the Paterson video, the Chicago case took a bit of detective work. The video was originally identified as taking place in South Carolina, leading police there to investigate and determine that it actually took place elsewhere.
The Greenville Police Department shared an update on Facebook, noting their part in tracking down the suspect.
“We wanted to reassure everyone that we have taken this video seriously. Very early this morning, we were able to determine that the individual who posted this video does NOT live in Greenville; however, it’s possible he visits this area. Early this morning, our telecommunicators were able to identify an address for him in Martin County. They immediately notified authorities with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, who located him a little after 8:00 AM today.”
A lawyer for Kristian Gonzalez, suspect in the Paterson knockout video, said the teen suffers from schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder, and takes both the anti-psychotic drug Abilify and Depakote, which treats seizure disorder.
But Briete also pushed back against allegations that the attack was part of the so-called “Knockout Game,” in which participants try to knock out an unsuspecting stranger with a single punch.
“I don’t think my client was entertaining anything in terms of a game,” he said.
Both Kristian Gonzalez and the other juvenile charged are being held in the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center after being arrested for the knockout attack.
[Picture by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]