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Source: Rockville Centre man victim of assault

Kyle Rogers, 23, at his Rockville Centre home

Kyle Rogers, 23, at his Rockville Centre home Friday, March 7, 2014, shows a photo taken of him at the hospital the day of the assault. Rogers was randomly punched in the face and knocked unconscious after leaving a bar on the Lower East Side early Sunday. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Police are searching for a suspect caught on video surveillance walking up behind a man on a Lower East Side street early Sunday -- punching him in the face and knocking him to the ground before walking off.

The attack occurred on the Bowery near Prince Street at 2:25 a.m., the NYPD said.

Police identified the victim only as a 23-year-old man and said he was struck "in the face with a closed fist," but a law enforcement source confirmed he was Kyle Rogers of Rockville Centre.

"I just remember waking up in the ambulance," Rogers, his jaw wired shut, told News 12 Long Island Friday. "I thought I could have fallen and hit a curb or something. I really had no idea, and that was the scariest part."

He was taken to Bellevue Hospital with a jaw broken on both sides, chin and eyebrow gashes that required stitches and a scrape on his left temple from hitting the sidewalk.

Rogers said he learned what had happened only after his brother did a little detective work and found surveillance footage of the attack.

"It looks like a video game or something, someone coming up and clocking you," said Rogers, who had been on his way to meet friends. "It's sickening to see how people would actually go around and do that."

Police have not linked the incident to a growing trend of criminal "knockout game" attacks in which unsuspecting victims are sucker-punched in an attempt to knock them unconscious.

The victim's father, Michael Rogers, also of Rockville Centre, told News 12 that it was a "cowardly act."

"It almost knocked me to the ground when I saw it," the father said.

It appears also that someone else nearby may have been working with the assailant by surreptitiously holding a cellphone to record the attack, the victim recalled.

Kyle Rogers said a key part of the crime is to have it recorded so the attacker could show it to friends and brag: "Without a video, it's pointless."

Father and son said they went public on the attack to warn others and hope someone will recognize the assailant, wearing a black polo shirt with a large "3" on the back.

Other victims of such attacks have been permanently injured, the son said.

"It needs to stop," Rogers said, noting that his injuries are "fixable. . . . I just want to prevent this from happening in the future."

But he said he'll be worrying about his safety whenever he walks on the streets, thinking "Is someone following me?"

With Anthony M. DeStefano and Gary Dymski

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