Gang initiates flash their headlights to get cars to pull over in order to murder their occupants.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2006]
A good friend of mine was scared yesterday on
My friend called a friend in Georgia to make sure that she read the license plate correctly and that there are
Origins: This seeming update to the long-lived urban legend about gang initiates who roam the nighttime streets in vehicles with their headlights turned off, then chase down and kill the unsuspecting motorists who flash their own headlights at them began surfacing in the snopes.com inbox in May 2006. Unlike its well-known predecessor, in which the gang members were the ones being flashed at, in the 2006 tale the prospective gangbangers are themselves flashing their headlights at potential victims to signal them to pull over to the side of the road. However, in common with its forerunner, the motivation behind the killings is the same: to murder randomly-selected people in order to be initiated into a gang.
Although the e-mailed warning states “this behavior has been identified as a gang initiation in Georgia,” nothing has surfaced to support that statement. The murder of haphazardly-chosen victims isn’t a common gang induction ritual, in Georgia or elsewhere in the U.S. While each troop has its own rites of passage, the usual mode of induction remains being “jumped in” — that is, initiates are beaten by full-fledged gang members for a specified length of time, with recruits who withstand the battering being admitted to the gang.
As for the claim that assaults such as the one reported in this
Though baseless, this concocted warning gained a shot in the arm when it was passed along by a member of South Carolina’s State Office of Victim Assistance. Ethel Douglas Ford, a Senior Manager for Victim Services in that office, received the warning in
The tale gained a further shot in the arm in October 2007 when a 22-year-old Appleton, Wisconsin man claimed to have been assaulted as per the legend. The attack victim said he had been jumped by three white males after stopping his car on the shoulder of northbound
information to investigators.
Said Fox Valley Metro Police Lt. Ray Lee of the supposed attack, “We can say without question that it did not occur as it was reported to us. We have discovered no information whatsoever that this was a random act of violence perpetrated by unknown
individuals who are actively seeking out people to victimize along the roadway.”
There have been instances of initiations into street gangs that led to the murder of random victims, but they are rare. Generally, they don’t involve gang hopefuls being clearly commanded by their overlords to take the lives of the haphazardly-selected but are rather instances of killings that occur incidentally during the course of criminal tasks that prospective initiates had been sent to accomplish by their handlers.
For instance, as part of his initiation into the Bloods in December 2004 in Harford County, Maryland, 18-year-old Wayne Lavon Bond, Jr. and 21-year-old Darrell Levon Miller were ordered by their superiors to summon a cab to a remote location and rob its driver. While it is not clear from a reading of news accounts whether either of the pair had been ordered to murder the man they were to rob, after getting in the taxi with the cabdriver, 37-year-old Derald Howard Guess, and relieving him of $20, Bond shot Guess once in the temple, killing him. Bond was sentenced to life plus
Similarly, in February 2004 in New York, when 18-year-old Charles
However, there has been at least one documented case of initiation into a gang being effected by way of the murder of randomly-selected strangers. On
The two gang leaders who ordered the abductions, Francisco Tirado and Eric Devon Queen, were found guilty of all charges against them, including first-degree murder, burglary, kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy, attempted first-degree murder, and assault with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. Queen told police he shot Lambert in the head while the others watched. Eventually, all nine participants in the murders were charged and convicted.
Barbara “gang planked” Mikkelson
Last updated: 12 July 2011
Fenton, Justin. “Teen Sentenced in Harford.” The Baltimore Sun. 3 June 2006 (p. B8). Fenton, Justin. “A Glimpse Into Gang Initiation.” The Baltimore Sun. 2 April 2006 (p. G1). Jeffcoat, Wendy. “Flashing Lights: Urban Legend or Gang Initiation?” The [Orangeburg] Times and Democrat. 9 July 2006. Lowe, Ed and John Lee. “Kaukauna Man Says Roadside Attack No Urban Legend.” Appleton [Wisconsin] Post-Crescent. 5 October 2007. Appleton [Wisconsin] Post-Crescent. “Police: Man Lied About Being Beaten by Strangers on U.S. 41 .” 20 October 2007. Quillin, Martha. “State Seeks Death For Pair of Defendants.” [Raleigh, NC] News and Observer. 4 April 2000 (p. A1). Shifrel, Scott. “‘Took This Guy’s Life for Nothing’ — Killer.” [New York] Daily News. 19 January 2006 (p. 33).
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.