Fact Check

MS-13 Car Bump Initiation

Gang initiates are bumping their cars into others, then shooting whoever gets out of the bumped automobile?

Published Jul 14, 2011

Claim:   Gang initiates are bumping their cars into others, then shooting whoever gets out of the bumped automobiles.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2008]

A friend of mine works at the Wilco/Hess located on Akron Drive at Hwy. 52. She called me tonight (Monday) at 2230 hrs. and told me that there had been several MS-13 gang members hanging out in the PVA and in the store. She started having customers come in after pumping their gas and telling her that they over heard some of the Hispanics saying that they were going to be doing some initiations the next several nights by bumping cars. When the victim stopped and got out of the car, the member would then shoot the person who got out of the car.

She heard this from several customers that came in the store and her assistant had received a phone call from her mother stating the same. She said that they had called a "radio station" and they had heard the same thing.

My boyfriend received 4 text messages from his friends that stated the M-13 gang is doing initiations in Baltimore, MD and they are bumping people's cars and when the person gets out, they are ordered to shoot the other driver and make sure people notice. Not sure how true this is, but it is kind of scary!!

butterfli0729 (10:14:12 AM): i was at the game last night and during one of the intermissions, my friends boyfriend (a wilmington cop) got a call about gang initiation being in wilmington last night...where this hispanic gang rear ends cars and when the person gets out they shoot them

butterfli0729 (10:14:18 AM): and i was calling everyone...i called your sister too

butterfli0729 (10:14:25 AM): and now its rumored to happen here tonight

butterfli0729 (10:14:34 AM): it happened in charlotte a month ago and 14 people died

We received a call from a Monmouth County Sheriff's Officer. There is an initiation tonight for a local gang. They have advised us to be aware when driving. The gang will bump your car from behind and once you stop and get out, they will shoot you. If you are bumped from behind tonight, keep driving. If they surround you from the front and back, keep driving and continually blow your horn.

Please be careful and let your family know of this as well.



Hey Everyone,

I just thought I would pass this along. You can take the information and do what you want with it. My husband, Derek, just called me to warn me of a Gang, MS13, that has begun initiations. What they are doing is coming up behind you at a stop light or stop sign and bumping into the back of your car. When you get out to look at the damage, they are 'plowing' you over. His boss, who was head of Narcotics in Pender county, is the one that informed him of this and told him to please pass it on. His warning to me is very reliable since he does have an inside to the police department.

A Correctional Officer at one of the Northern California area's institutions intelligence division just intercepted a message from the national known South American gang "MS13". The gang is expanding into the Northern California region rapidly. The message to the members "outside" was to hold gang initiations tonight (Thursday 3/27/08). They plan to slightly "bump" cars from the rear or from the side. When the occupants get out of their cars to look at the damage and confront the offending car; they plan to shoot the individual. I certainly don't mean to cause you to panic or anything, but my nephew was told by his division officer to inform any and all his friends and family since they consider the threat very credible and likely to occur. I suggest that you email or call your friends and family in the area and inform them. Better to be a bit cautious, then to be sorry later.

Good morning everyone, please note this is not a forward, this is something I am sending out as a warning due to a phone call Shane and I received last night from a friend who is a Harris County Sheriff Deputy. We were informed that right now the MS13 gang is doing a lot of initiations this week and the next couple of weeks. What the Deputy and others have found out from arresting some of these low lives is that they are going around rear ending vehicles and then when you pull over and get out of your vehicle to check the damage they are shooting you.

This is especially taking place in Harris County but is also going on in the surrounding areas. So everyone please keep this in the back of your mind if you end up in a situation especially at night where you have been rear ended.

I'm giving you this little tid bit of info due to the gang involved is spreading to multiple counties and it can happen anywhere.

There is a new gang initiation going on this week into next week, what these jerks are doing is driving behind or beside people and then proceeding to hit your car, when you stop and get out to see what happened they shoot you in point blank range. These are the same people that killed those Delaware college kids, and they have so far, killed 6 people that way this week alone. So please if someone hits you and you look in the car and they look suspicious just keep going don't stop.

Union and essex county are the worst spots, but from the meeting the county police gang task force had they are going out of the county to have a better chance of not getting caught.

The Tucson Police Department contacted Security with the following information:

A new gang calling themselves the MS13 is now active in the Tucson area and are recruiting new members. Gang intelligence has discovered information that this gang will be starting an initiation process for future members. This initiation includes causing a minor accident to any of our citizens and when the unsuspecting person exits their vehicle, these gang members will shoot them.

This gang has an extremely violent past and has been in California for some time.

If you are in an accident and feel at all uncomfortable with the occupants of the other vehicle, remain in your vehicle and call 911 if possible.


Origins:   The above-quoted warning about an imminent "car bump" gang initiation began

spreading like wildfire via text messaging and e-mail on 26 March 2008. Like many other erroneous gang-related warnings, it posited initiates would be randomly choosing innocent victims and gunning them down as a way of gaining entry into gangs. And like many of those other warnings, this one came in dozens different variations, each proclaiming that the deadly activity (usually attributed to the "MS-13" or Mara Salvatrucha gang) will take place in a different city, county, or state.

Many different police departments around the country approached the rumor with skepticism, issuing disclaimers that they had not confirmed any such gang activity was taking place and that they did not have any credible information that activities are being planned. For example, the police in Tallahassee, Florida, said:

A text message warning recipients of a gang initiation in Tallahassee tonight is spreading quickly and prompting calls to both the Police Department and Sheriff's Office.

The message reads: "The gang MS 13 here in tally is having initiation that starts tonight they bump your car and then when you get out they shoot you please pass this on."

Spokesmen from both the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff's Office call this an "urban legend" and say they have no credible information or reason to believe that any such gang activity will occur tonight.

Police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, issued a similar disclaimer:

City police were swamped with phone calls as word spread about a possible gang initiation ruse.

Word was that those wanting to join gangs would cause a rear-end collision with another car and then attack that driver, said Jamie Smith, Fayetteville police spokeswoman.

The rumor was spread by text messaging and e-mail, Smith said.

Lawmen investigated the claims but found nothing to substantiate them, Smith said.

Police believe it was merely an urban legend, Smith said.

Only the police in Buffalo, New York, appeared to take the warning seriously, issuing an alert they maintained was based on "credible information":

Buffalo Police Commissioner McCarthy Gipson is issuing an alertt. Gipson says a gang from Central America may be recruiting members here in Western New York.

Gipson says part of that initiation is staging rear-end collisions. Gipson warns if this happens to you as you drive, don't get out of the vehicle. Instead, he suggests calling 911 and asking for a uniformed officer response, or you can drive to the nearest police station.

Gipson says the gang is making its first stop in Western New York, and has a reputation for violence to citizens and law enforcement. In fact, Gipson warns there is credible evidence the rear end collision may be a prelude to robbery and/or assault.

The alert was issued after the Buffalo Police Department says it received credible information that a dangerous street gang may have come into the Western New York area, and that the gang was holding an initiation where prospective members drive around the community and hit drivers from behind.

The threat of gang initiation has been circulated on the internet, and discounted in other areas, but Buffalo Police Spokesman Mike DeGeorge tells us the department would not have put drivers on alert without credible information.

However, the "credible information" turned out to be a shooting that had taken place in the area earlier in the month, one which was itself reminiscent of another gang-related urban legend:

Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said the decision to alert the public was based on the shooting of an innocent victim this month.

Gipson revealed that this shooting involved a man driving his car in Buffalo, who pulled over when a vehicle behind him, occupied by at least three men, began flashing its lights at him.

When the man got out of his car, one of the men inside the other vehicle opened fire, striking him, according to Gipson. The victim sought medical treatment and has survived his injuries.

Gipson said this incident, along with "credible information" from street informants, was the reason why he chose to issue a public alert.

"It appears that he could have been the innocent victim of a gang initiation rite," Gipson said of the motorist. "We have factual evidence that led me to make the determination to issue that alert, so we're not dealing with an urban myth here.

"Individuals from this group are in Western New York," Gipson said of the violent Central American gang. "I'd rather that the public be made aware than to have an incident of that type occur."

In the event, no incidents like the ones described in the circulated messages occurred, and some sources maintained that the Buffalo police commissioner got caught up in a hoax and attempted to save face by linking the spurious warning to an unrelated (and possibly non-gang-related) shooting:

"It's one of those urban legends, and there's no factual basis for this," a police source said about the department's warning.

"They were well-intentioned, and they took this information on good faith," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They issued the alert out of caution, and now they’re in a tough position. They may be embarrassed."

Police sources also say the street informants who sparked the public alert may be "wannabe" or "copycat" gang members, who are not connected to MS-13, a gang with Central American roots known for violent crimes, including severing victims’ fingers, murder, assault, robbery and home invasions, as well as burglaries and narcotics trafficking.

Last updated:   14 July 2011


    Thomas, Vanessa.   "Were Police Hoaxed Into Airing Warning About Gang?"

    The Buffalo News.   28 March 2008.

    The Fayetteville Observer.   "Police: No Truth to Gang Initiation Ruse."

    26 March 2008.

    WBEN-TV [Buffalo, NY].   "Buffalo Police Issuing Gang Initiation Alert."

    26 March 2008.

    WCTV-TV [Tallahassee, FL].   "Text Message Warns of Gang Initiation."

    26 March 2008.

    WECT-TV [Wilmington, NC].   "MS-13 Text Message Warning Circulates Throughout the State."

    26 March 2008.

    WGRZ-TV [Buffalo, NY].   "Alert Continues; No Incidents Reported."

    27 March 2008.

    WRAL-TV [Fayetteville, NC].   "Fayetteville Police: Gang Initiation Reports Not True."

    26 March 2008.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime