Fact Check

Google Maps Image Captured a Shooting in Chicago?

Rumor: A Google Maps image captured a man shooting a child in Chicago.

Published Feb 4, 2015

Claim:   A Google Maps image captured a man shooting a child in Chicago.


TRUE: A Google Maps image of Chicago shows a man pointing a (possibly fake) gun at a child.
FALSE: That Google Maps image captured the actual shooting of a child.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2015]

This is the picture purporting to show a kid getting shot on a Google Earth Street View. True?


Origins:   An image from Google Maps Street View that has been circulating since at least 2007 and purportedly shows a kid getting shot on the streets of Chicago took another viral lap on Facebook in January 2015. The image does capture a man pointing what looks like a gun at a child on South Oakley Avenue.

However, the photograph has never been connected to an official police report of a shooting, and subsequent images from the scene did not show an injured child or anything else amiss:

Possibly the man in the image was wielding a toy gun, or something that was gun-shaped but was not an actual firearm.

Apparently the most dangerous element of this photograph was a Facebook scam that was linked to it in 2010. The scam promised to show viewers (non-existent) pictures of the aftermath of the shooting if they liked and shared the image with their friends:

Although additional Google Street View cars have driven through and photographed the area since the viral "shooting" (once in 2011, and again in 2014), the photos from 2007 are still available in the Google Street View archives.

Last updated:   4 February 2015

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

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