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Ding Dong Dead

Claim:   Gang initiates in the Dallas area are knocking on the doors of residences and shooting whoever answers.

FALSE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2007]

Gang initiation

Hey I just heard that (per channel 8 news) gangs are now doing initiation by having the new members come knock on your door and when you answer they shoot you in the head, a 68 yr old and a 16 or 19 yr old have now been murdered around the metroplex. Apparently the gangs are now moving into the Dallas/Mesquite area and starting doing this so please DO NOT ANSWER YOUR DOORS UNLESS IT IS A FAMILY MEMBER OR A PERSON YOU KNOW WELL!!!!!
 

Origins:   E-mailed warnings about gang initiation activities
involving the killing of randomly-selected victims are typically fearful expressions based on nothing more than rumors, misinformation, and recycled urban legends. This December 2007 warning about gang initiates in the Dallas area knocking on doors of residences and shooting whoever answers is more of them same: Although shootings like the ones it references did take place in Tarrant County in December 2007, police have said there is no connection between the shootings, nor are they known to be gang-related.

On 9 December 2007, 68-year-old Marianne Wilkinson of North Richland Hills was shot and killed in the foyer of her home after answering the doorbell. Police have not yet made any arrests in that case, nor do they have any suspects.

In the early morning hours of 12 December 2007, 16-year-old Kelvin Collier was watching television in his southeast Fort Worth apartment when he answered a knock at the door and was immediately shot in the chest by whoever was on the other side. A friend of Kelvin's described the youth's murder:
Darwin said that he and Kelvin were watching television about 2 a.m. at Kelvin's home in the Ladera Palms apartments when there was a knock on the door. He said Kelvin answered it immediately. A split second later, there was gunfire.

"The guy at the door didn't say a word," said Darwin, who said he dived out a window when the shooting started and sought safety at the home of another friend. "He didn't say a name. Nothing. He just opened fire."

"My friend just opened the door," Darwin said. "He didn't even look out the peephole or nothing, and there goes his life."
This incident was apparently a case of a home invasion robbery perpetrated by someone who was familiar with the victims. Police have arrested Wesley Davis and James Murphy, who are now charged with capital murder, in connection with that case. Davis apparently knew the family and had been a visitor at their apartment before; Davis and Murphy entered the apartment after shooting Kelvin Collier and stole a purse from Collier's mother, who was also shot in the leg.

Contrary to the e-mailed warning quoted above, the Dallas Morning News quoted Fort Worth police as saying that the killings were neither related to each other nor gang-related:
Fort Worth police said that despite the obvious similarities, the two cases are not related. Ms. Wilkinson is believed to have been a victim of random violence. That's not the case in Kelvin's death, police said, although authorities did rule out the likelihood of his slaying being gang-related.
A third such incident occurred in the early morning hours of 13 December 2007, when another Fort Worth homeowner was the intended victim of an armed intruder who knocked on his door. However, once again the victim was not a randomly-selected stranger (police said the shooting "was part of an ongoing dispute"), and in this case the homeowner managed to disarm and shoot his would-be attacker:
The homeowner fought back after noticing the safety on the gun was on. He disarmed the gunman and fired at him as he fled, police said.

Two other men, who were outside the victim's home waiting on the intruder, reached into their car, grabbed their firearms and shot at the homeowner, whose name was not released. Police are looking for those two men.
A suspect in that case was arrested after he reported to an area hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound in his back and claimed he had been shot at a nightclub.

Police again emphasized that the "knock and shoot" aspect common to all these cases was merely coincidence, and the crimes were not related to each other and were not part of a planned pattern of gang initiates shooting randomly-selected victims:
Despite the similarities of the three incidents, police said that they are not related and cautioned people not to become overly concerned about such confrontations.

"The only commonality behind any of these incidents is the knock at the door," said Fort Worth police Lt. Dean Sullivan. "Both of our Fort Worth incidents have each been target specific and no way random and no way related to any other high-profile crimes in the metroplex."

He said that investigators do not view these shootings as part of a developing pattern or trend sweeping the area.

"We make every effort to keep the public informed," Lt. Sullivan said. "We understand the concern, but in these incidents in Fort Worth, they aren't related. There shouldn't be cause for concern."

North Richland Hills police Lt. Larry Irving agreed with his Fort Worth counterpart.

"We are telling people to be aware of their surroundings, which is what we tell them all of the time. There's no reason for residents to be afraid of each knock on the door."
Last updated:   14 July 2011

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Sources:

    Dennis, Debra.   "Fort Worth Teen Shooting Victim May Have Been Targeted."
    The Dallas Morning News.   12 December 2007.

    Dennis, Debra.   "Fort Worth Homeowner Shoots Gunman at Door."
    The Dallas Morning News.   13 December 2007.