Fact Check

Gang Murder at Broadway Mall

Is the MS-13 gang planning to murder an innocent victim at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville?

Published Nov 18, 2010

Claim:   The MS-13 gang is planning to murder an innocent victim at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville, NY.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2010]

Some friends advised that MS-13 is seeking to initiate new members and they allegedly picked The Broadway Mall in Hicksville as the location to pick out an innocent victim as thier target. Obviously the location can change. The word "Murder" was used. Police are aware of the rumor as well. Some school districts are emailing parents and sendign home notices.

With the approaching holidays and shopping, PLEASE stay alert to your surroundings. You and / or your family members can always ask to be accompanied to a vehicle if alone or concerned. The more people who get this message out, the potential for avoiding a tragedy will follow. Talk to your kids and loved ones and remember the first lesson in self-defense....... Run away...... SEE SOMETHING... SAY SOMETHING.
Stay Safe.



Origins:   This warning from the 2010 holiday season about a gang "seeking to initiate new members" by killing a randomly selected innocent victim at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville (Nassau County, New York) bears the hallmarks of numerous other gang-related urban legends:

  • Gangs regularly target innocent victims for murder, typically as part of an initiation scheme for new members (e.g., the "flashing headlights" legend).

  • Gangs typically select shopping malls as the locations for such gruesome initiation events (e.g., the Macon Mall warning).

  • The shooting of randomly selected, innocent victims is a trait commonly associated with the MS-13 gang (e.g., the "car bump" legend).

As usual, the gang murder warning quickly spread across the Internet, while law enforcement officials in the alleged target area investigated it and found it to be nothing more than the latest iteration of unsubstantiated viral gang rumors. The Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) notes on their Facebook page that:

The NCPD is aware of a non-credible e-mail message that is circulating regarding the Broadway Mall in Hicksville and possible initiation activity there by MS-13 gang members. The NCPD has thoroughly investigated this information and as in the past, it is NOT credible. To address community concern, the NCPD will continue our Intensive Patrol of the Broadway Mall.

Likewise, New York television station WPIX reported that:

Police say there is no credibility to a barrage of emails circulating in Nassau County of an impending MS-13 gang initiation where an innocent victim would be randomly singled out to be murdered at the Broadway Mall in Hicksville.

Nassau Police quickly got on the case, and confirmed that the rumors were false.

"Our special investigations squad has to check out to see if this has any merit what so over," said Detective Lt. Kevin Smith. "It appears to be another unsubstantiated rumor that, because of the internet, people are spreading pretty quickly like wild fire."

Patrols have been added at the local malls but the heightened security is normal during the holiday shopping season.

MS-13, as the extremely violent Mara Salvatrucha gang has come to be dubbed, has been fingered in a number of other false rumors about initiation rites involving the selection and murder of random innocents, such as the 2007 scare about motorists on two named highways in Maryland being chased down and killed after giving a "courtesy flash" to alert the driver of another car that his high beams were on, the 2007 online alert about female motorists who supplied directions being selected, and the 2008 warning about their deliberately "bumping" cars into the vehicles of unsuspecting motorists to get them to pull over so they could shoot them.

Last updated:   18 November 2010


    Hoell, Rob.   "No Murders Planned for Long Island Mall."

    WPIX-TV [New York, NY].   18 November 2010.

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

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