Fact Check

Heartless Felons Gang Threatens to Kill All White Police Officers?

Did the Heartless Felons gang threaten to kill police officers in Ohio?

Published Dec 22, 2014

Claim:   The Heartless Felons gang issued an order to kill all white police officers.


Example:   [Collected via email, December 2014]

In the wake of several highly publicized media accounts of the shooting deaths of blacks by white police officers, a violent street gang has decided that the time has come for them to take justice into their own hands by murdering white cops. The Cuyhoga County Sheriff's Office in northern Ohio said area street gang Heartless Felons has instructed its members to kill white police officers in retaliation for the deaths of blacks like Michael Brown and Eric Garner.


Origins:   In December 2014, a screenshot of an e-mail detailing a threat purportedly made against the lives of police officers on Ohio by the Heartless Felons gang started circulating via social media:

"Information was obtained via the [Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office] that the Heartless Felon Gang has issued an order to kill any white police officer in retaliation for recent current event incidents (Ferguson and CPD 12 year old BB gun shooting.)"

While the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office did make some local police departments aware of the threat, detectives eventually determined the tip was not credible. On 22 December 2014, Cleveland.com reported an official memo on the subject had never been distributed to officers in Ohio:

Det. Robert Weis at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department caught wind of the email around Thanksgiving Day. He said his detectives worked with the sheriff's office, the Cleveland Division of Police and the FBI but were not able to identify the sender, whose name is cut off in the screen-grab. Investigators deemed the threat was not credible.

Despite this, the email quickly spread through Facebook, Weis said.

The Heartless Felons gang may not have ordered its members to kill all white police officers in Ohio but that doesn't mean authorities aren't on high alert. Although this tip was deemed not credible, several departments have begun taking extra precautions:

Akron Police Chief James Nice has said he was notified of the threat through a police bulletin and decided to staff patrol cars with two officers instead of one.
"We just want our officers to be on heightened alert," Nice said. "We need to remain tactically alert of surroundings when a threat like that is made. This gang is absolutely violent. It's not a threat with no substance."

Last updated:   22 December 2014

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

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