Text message about Walmart a hoax - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Text message about Walmart a hoax

WATERLOO (KWWL) - A text message and email warning to stay away from Walmart has some people on edge.

KWWL received several calls to our newsroom about the message.

It talks about a gang initiation. 
Police say its a hoax that has spread across the country.

The text message is similar to one that says...
"Do not go to any Wal-Mart tonight. Gang initiation to shoot 3 women tonight.  Not sure which Wal-Mart and confirmed on TV. Forward to all girls."

Captain Steve McCool, of the Oklahoma City Police Department said, "We sent that to our criminal intelligent unit and gang unit and said can you tell us anything about it is there anything credible to it?"

In a written response, Walmart says, "We are aware of the message being circulated and are working with local authorities to enhance our security efforts at our stores in the area."

The message from Walmart also said "We regard this as being only a rumor."

Police agree.
"We can't come up with anything that tells us it's credible or an actual threat," said Captain McCool.

The threatening text message didn't just appear on cell phones.
Messages were also spread across social networking websites like Facebook and Myspace

Police in eastern Iowa say the hoax has been circulating for years.


The Iowa Department of Public Safety also issued a release late Friday morning.  It follows below:

The Iowa Department of Public Safety and law enforcement agencies across Iowa have received hundreds of calls about e-mail and text messages warning of a planned gang initiation at Walmart in which three women or girls would be shot. At this time, the Iowa Intelligence Fusion Center has found no credible information to substantiate this threat. Iowa is among dozens of other states where this hoax message is circulating via the internet and text messages. 

Russ Porter, Director of the State of Iowa Intelligence Fusion Center says, "While smart phones and the internet are important communication tools, there are opportunities and drawbacks.  Technology allows information to be disseminated to large groups of people almost instantaneously. In law enforcement, that can have advantages and disadvantages. If a child is missing, an Amber Alert gets information out to hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of seconds.

"But on the flip side, it also allows misinformation to spread very quickly. We take every threat seriously, and after investigating the claims, there is no intelligence to corroborate these emails and text messages," Porter said.

Public Safety Commissioner Eugene T. Meyer said although these appear to be hoaxes, law enforcement must remain vigilant and urges all Iowans to be aware of their surroundings.  He said, "Whether you shop at Walmart or any other store, if you see something suspicious, contact store security or your local authorities right away."

Online producer:  Adam Amdor


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