Teen turns himself in for 'knockout' assault

Posted: June 20, 2014

ON VIDEO, Trent Epps seemed awfully proud of himself for punching an unarmed, lonely man square in the jaw, but when Epps turned himself in to police Tuesday night, he didn't have a word to say, according to Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

"He is like a hard-core criminal. . . . He's not telling us nothing," Chitwood said. "It's almost like he's a prisoner of war."

But Epps, 18, isn't a hard-core criminal, at least not on paper. Police said he has a clean record and a mother who loved him enough to urge him to turn himself in after a video surfaced on Facebook last week of him allegedly coldcocking a 58-year-old man at the Aronimink trolley stop.

"This is a violent, mean-spirited act committed for absolutely no reason other than just to be vicious," Chitwood said. "So he ruins his life at 18 years of age for this stupid, idiotic, vicious assault."

After turning himself in to police about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Epps was charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and harassment for the incident that Chitwood said was part of the "knockout game, " which involves random acts of violence, usually a single punch to an unsuspecting victim.

Epps, of Huntley Road near Shirley in Upper Darby, is now being held at the Delaware County prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.

"It's not a joke. It's not a game," Chitwood said. "Thank God they're not rocket scientists because their own stupidity led to his arrest."

The incident, which was captured on video by one of Epps' three friends who were with him at the train stop at Burmont Road and Morgan Avenue, happened shortly after 1 p.m. June 11.

The victim, whom Chitwood described as "semihomeless," goes to the train stop every day, just to sit.

The video allegedly shows Epps approaching the man and asking him, "What are you trying to do?"

The victim says, "I'm not trying to do nothing, just sitting here."

After a few more seconds, the assailant throws a punch out of nowhere directly to the man's jaw, the video shows. The punch was so hard that it can be heard on tape and the force knocked the man's glasses off of his head.

Police were alerted to the incident the following day, when one of the teens posted the video to Facebook and the department started receiving numerous calls from outraged citizens.

After the footage was released to the media, Chitwood said he got an additional two dozen or so calls identifying Epps as the attacker on the tape.

Chitwood said his officers "beat the bushes" yesterday looking for Epps and even brought in his mother, who said that it was her son on the video and that she'd try to get him to surrender.

The investigation remains ongoing, as police try to identify the other three boys who were with Epps at the station that day.

"These guys are bums - why ain't they working or why aren't they in school?" Chitwood said. "No, they're out there getting ready to knock somebody out."

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