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Bump Car MS-13 Gang Initiation Warning

Rapidly circulating rumors warn that, as part of a gang initiation, gang members are deliberately bumping cars and then shooting the drivers when they get out (Full commentary below).

Unsubstantiated - Probably Untrue

Example:(Submitted, March 2008)
Subject: FW: Please READ and PASS on...and be careful. Importance: High

I actually saw two of these murders associated with some gangs reported in our local news in the past two weeks.

Be extremely cautious, You may or may not know that my husband works for Harris County Adult Probation. Yesterday they were informed that the MS Gang in Houston is starting new member initiation. The way you get into the gang is to kill someone. The word on the street is that they will bump your car and shoot you when you get out. If you get bump PLEASE drive on. Please pass on to your family and friends.

In March 2008, rumors began spreading that claimed that the violent MS-13 street gang have begun conducting a deadly new initiation for new members. The warnings, which circulate via email, text message and word of mouth, claim that prospective gang members are deliberately bumping into cars and then shooting the driver when he or she stops and gets out of the vehicle. The messages claim that the new gang member must kill someone to be initiated into the gang. Versions of the message have been set in several American states, including Florida, North Carolina and New York.

Authorities in some regions have warned motorists not to pull over if bumped from behind and to call 911 instead. Police in Buffalo New York issued a warning to residents about the supposed threat, but many other law enforcement authorities across the country have dismissed the rumors as a new version of a long running urban legend. An article on notes:
Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson warned city residents on Wednesday to be wary of gang initiation rituals which could result in harm to innocent victims.

But several other law enforcement agencies across the nation decided not to issue similar warnings after concluding information which came to them about such occurances amounted to nothing more than a hoax.
Commissioner Gipson claimed the warning was issued as a result of information from informants along with a shooting incident. The Buffalo News reports:
Gipson revealed Thursday that this shooting involved a man driving his car in Buffalo, who pulled over when a vehicle behind him, occupied by at least three men, began flashing its lights at him.

When the man got out of his car, one of the men inside the other vehicle opened fire, striking him, according to Gipson. The victim sought medical treatment and has survived his injuries.

Gipson said this incident, along with "credible information" from street informants, was the reason why he chose to issue a public alert Wednesday.
However, the warnings have now spread rapidly across the United States, although there are as yet no other credible reports of such incidents occurring. Some have suggested that Buffalo police have fallen victim to an old urban legend.

I am monitoring the situation and will update this article as more information comes to hand.

RCMP Warning Hoax - No Headlights Gang Initiation Myth
Probably A Hoax
Were police hoaxed into airing warning about gang?

Last updated: 29th March 2008
First published: 29th March 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen