It's a hoax say police

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Last night the Lufkin police Department received more than 100 calls about it in less than 24 hours. Every East Texas police department we called has gotten calls from folks worried about a "text or e-mail" warning about Wal-Mart.

It is a hoax. There is not a murderous gang threatening to target people at Wal-Mart.

Law enforcement is taking some precautions. At least one local police department is keeping tabs on East Texas Wal-Marts, following random e-mails and text messages that have threatened gang organized murder and kidnapping.

"Our criminal investigation division has looked into the threats and we can't find a suspect or any kind of originating source to the threat to give it any validity," said Officer Kevin Brownlee with the Longview PD.

It appears to be a nationwide urban legend, circulating via cell phone text messages and e-mail for years, but really picking up steam over the last couple of days.

"We found that these things go back several years, 4-5 years around 2005 when these threats first started surfacing," said the officer.

A KLTV employee even received the threat this afternoon via text message. It read, "Police are asking all women not to go to Wal-Mart tonight. There is a gang initiation and three women will be shot." Again, there is absolutely no basis to believe that this is true.

"It creates alarm or panic among people so it is a terroristic threat," said Brownlee.

Longview police say their notification came out of Polk County, and while they're not discounting it, they are saying that this is a form of terrorism meant to disrupt our daily lives. The police department in Kilgore agreed.

"Due to the fact that nothing has ever occurred of that nature in this town, we still take threat seriously," said Sgt. Tony Stone with the Kilgore police. "As far as Wal-Mart is concerned, we will patrol the area as we normally do."

These threats are nothing new to law enforcement, and they say it's better to be safe than sorry.

A little Internet investigation traces this hoax back to Memphis in 2005. It seems to pop up every once in a while at locations all over the country with no violence ever documented to back it up.