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E-mail warning of danger from gang initiations said to be hoax

May 12, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

An e-mail that has been circulating widely throughout the area claiming gang initiations involving rape attempts and flashing headlights is "a hoax," Washington County Sheriff's Department Investigator Ryan Shifflet said Thursday.

The e-mail claims that there were two recent rape attempts in Winchester, Va., as part of an MS-13 gang initiation and warns women to take caution. It also claims that as part of a Bloods gang initiation, prospective members drive around without headlights, then chase and gun down anyone who flashes their headlights back at them.

"It's confirmed to be a hoax," Shifflet said. The Winchester (Va.) Police Department said no such incidents were reported to them, he said.

"The one about the flashing headlights is a widespread urban legend," Shifflet said. "It's not confirmed. There is nothing to indicate this is true information."

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But just because the claims contained in the e-mail are unfounded, Shifflet said citizens should remain cautious no matter what the circumstances.

"It's not to say that someone couldn't get the information and attempt something like that," he said.

It is always safer for a man or a woman to walk with another person to their car, especially in dark or secluded areas, Shifflet said. If a citizen believes he or she is being followed in either their car or while walking, they should call police and walk or drive to a well-lighted, public area, such as a police station or convenience store, he said.

Shifflet said police are trying to determine the source of the e-mail, but assure that "as far as these occurring in this area, that's a hoax."

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