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mara-salvatrucha.jpgOur scary world got a little scarier mid-week, when WGRZ-TV, WKBW-TV, WIVB-TV, the Buffalo News and several local blogs started reporting that the La Mara Salvatrucha (aka MS-13 or MSX3) gang was infiltrating the city and initiating new recruits by having them rear-end motorists before shooting them after they stopped to assess the damage.

But now, two days after the mayhem was to ensue, the question has become: Were we all hoaxed when the media was hoaxed when the police were hoaxed?, a Web site devoted to following urban myths, has thus far listed the MS-13 “car bump” story to be of undetermined veracity. They do note that Buffalo is the only city to have treated the threat as legitimate. Police spokesman, former WGRZ newscaster Mike DeGeorge, says, “the department would not have put drivers on alert without credible information.”

The warning from Buffalo Police remains in effect and is still posted on their Web site, but media outlets have begun toning down their initial hysteria when it became clear that Buffalo was the only city in the country to give credence to the widespread rumor that the gang would be conducting these initiations last Wednesday, March 26. also catalogs other gang-related fables that include flashing your headlights at cars driving with their lights off at night. Those lights might be off for a reason. If you’re so bold as to flash your lights at your fellow driver, a member of the Bloods is liable to pop a cap in your ass. Snopes calls this a hoax, as well as tales of gang members forcing drivers off the interstate before shooting them.

In Dallas, there was the terrifying spree where gang initiates would walk up and ring doorbells, shooting whoever answered the door. But it never actually happened. And whatever you do, don’t give directions to anybody in a mall parking lot. Give the directions, and they shoot you just to gain membership in the gang. These cruel recruits went so far as to target women, specifically. But again, law enforcement officials thoroughly debunked these tales.

Many of these stories spread like wildfire thanks to email and text messaging. For now, the warning from Police Commissioner Gipson is ongoing. So, if you’re rear-ended, you’re supposed to keep right on driving to a well-lit area before calling 911 on your cell phone. We assume the police and your insurance company will understand your leaving the scene of an accident. Especially if the guy in the car behind you looks like this hombre…

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what’s worse: that our police department fell for a probable hoax that has only served to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) around town… or that they have been willing to twist things around to make the basis of the whole situation seem more credible than it is by changing their story.

    It was first announced Wednesday night when the that this might be a problem, and it was stated again on Thursday in the Buffalo News:

    “Police officials reiterated today that they are taking this possible threat very seriously, although no such incident has happened locally.”

    By that point, the idea that it might have been no more than a hoax got around, and the story changed. An article in Friday’s Buffalo News had this quote to offer from our Police officials:

    Even some law enforcement insiders said the gang account is simply an urban legend. But Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said the decision to alert the public was based on the shooting of an innocent victim this month.

    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.

    “It appears that he could have been the innocent victim of a gang initiation rite,” Gipson said of the motorist. “We have factual evidence that led me to make the determination to issue that alert, so we’re not dealing with an urban myth here.”

    It doesn’t take much super sleuthing to see how the story changed. On Wednesday, the story was “we have credible information, but it hasn’t happened yet.” When people became critical, the story turned by Friday into “we have credible information AND an example event that caused us to come forward with it.” How convenient.

    So the curious part, the shooting they refer to, “earlier this month” was actually Sunday (Easter) morning, on West Tupper St. While I won’t claim to know exactly what happened that morning, as a resident of the very same block of West Tupper St. I did hear these gunshots ring out. I do know the commotion took place in front of an unoccupied residence that has been on the Buffalo Police radar for months now, due to whatever unscrupulous activity might be going on inside…

    I therefore find it highly questionable the two are linked at all. Given the history and frequency of problems requiring police intervention at this particular address, there really wasn’t anything random nor unexpected about it… I had assumed the shooting was simply related to the same nonsense that’s taken place at that same location for a long time running now. Seems like an awful long reach and quite the coincidence that the shooting incident in front of a known problem residence had nothing to do with said residence, but was rather the possible beginnings of a gang invasion.

    What I find more likely is a police department that was probably red in the face over creating panic around a likely hoax… and then looking frantically through their own blotter to see what they could dig up and point to as a possible example to back themselves up.

    So if I’ve got it wrong, my apologies to the BPD. Keep on keeping us safe… and thank you for it. Even if a mistake was made, I’d never fault you for wanting to be safe rather than sorry – it is a reasonable way to go about things! An informed and alert public is going to be a safer one. (Note: informed means you’re honest with us, at ALL times!)

    But… if I am seeing through this, and have done so correctly… I ask the BPD: what’s so bad about admitting you might have gotten this one wrong? If you want to be honest with our public about possible threats, why not be just as honest if a threat has been discredited? Or is your pride simply more important… to the point you’d rather have everyone involved in a fender bender take a detour to the nearest police station rather than just pull over and exchange insurance info as per the normal protocol?

    At any rate, once all the fender-bender emergencies are dealt with… I hope some resources will be devoted to figuring out who was firing guns outside my home, be them MS-13 members or otherwise.

  • poodlepie

    So, you may say that none of this has happened.However, last night in tulare county a car load of gang members were arested, they were caught with a load of guns in their trunk.

  • Calamine

    Mara Salvatrucha (aka MS-13 or MSX3) arrested in San Francisco for murder of Father and child in road-rage incident. See San Francisco Chronicle.

  • ali


  • That’s cool cause my uncle is in ms 13 and I really want him back as my real uncle but since I found out that he was in ms 13 I was shocked cause he might as well put his family in danger