EMA gang warning letter determined to be hoax

Published 7:45 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

A letter warning of gang initiation, thought to be issued by the Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency, was determined to be a hoax by county officials.

Some citizens throughout Lowndes County received what appeared to be “official” emails and text messages on Feb. 9 notifying them the second week in February was “National Gang Initiation Week.”

The notice suggested taking precautionary measures by informing the public to a potential gang initiation method, which appeared to be credible information.
However, three days after the mailing, Lowndes County EMA Director Walter Hill learned through the Department of Homeland Security the letter was declared to be a hoax.

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“This is not unlike previous scares our county has had in reference to such initiations” said Hill.

Two years ago, information received by the EMA in reference to flashing lights was thought to be a sign of gang initiation.

“These are not the kinds of things that can be taken lightly, as we’ve seen with the ninth grader in Madison who was arrested for a shooting.” said Hill. “That was said to be gang related.”

According to Hill, accurate and updated information was provided to residents throughout the Lowndes County area acknowledging the hoax.

The EMA office released a notification advising the public of the hoax.

“I am pleased to announce that I have been informed that the information regarding the alleged potential gang initiation method has been declared a hoax and that no incident(s) associated to such an activity has occurred,” says a portion of the statement. “If you should at any time observe strange and unusual activities which could poise a threat to life and or property, you are encouraged to not take matters into your own hands, rather notify your local police department or the Lowndes County Sheriff Office.”

“We appreciate the citizens’ awareness and vigilance throughout this ordeal and encourage future efforts to disprove any such information,” said Hill.