Fact Check

Muslims Open Fire on California Hikers?

A few disreputable web sites falsely claimed that Muslims in San Bernardino County fired on hikers while shouting "Allahu Akbar."

Published Mar 29, 2016

The media covered up an incident in San Bernardino during which several Muslim men fired upon a number of Californian hikers.

On or around 29 March 2016, several unreliable web sites reported that Muslim men in San Bernardino had fired upon hikers in a nearby park, and that the news media (in complicity with local police) covered up the incident (for unspecified reasons):

A heavily armed group of men with Middle Eastern appearance was arrested two hours ago outside Los Angeles after opening fire upon Hikers and Campers in a large State Park in the area.

According to the victim/witness, there were two groups of men, about 15 per group, armed with heavy weapons, who began shouting "Allah u Akbar" and started firing. The firing allegedly lasted upwards of TWO HOURS before police were able to find callers in the vast California parkland.

When police were responding, one group of 15 or so men took-off into the hills, while the other group was captured by police.

CALIFORNIA TERROR COVER UP? Heavily-armed Muslims shouting "Allahu Akbar" open fire on campers and hikers in a park. Cops arrest them, then let them go! A heavily armed group of Middle Eastern looking Muslim men was arrested outside Los Angeles after opening fire upon hikers and campers in a large State Park in the area.

According to these sites, a group of heavily armed, apparently "Muslim" men (shouting "Allahu Akbar") shot at hikers and campers in the Deep Creek Hot Springs area of Apple Valley, California. Police responded to the scene and tracked down the armed individuals, but then decided to let them go, and the media supposedly completely ignored the bizarre incident.

However, the Los Angeles Times (a major newspaper local to the incident, but somehow unaware of the coverup) published an article on the subject on 29 March 2016. According to the Times, police investigated the reports of shooting, and the armed men they interviewed at the scene were co-operative. No part of that reporting described the men as Muslim, claimed that they had fired at anyone, or indicated that anyone in the group shouted "Allahu Akbar":

The FBI was continuing to question people after receiving reports from campers that a group of armed men in a remote part of Apple Valley fired hundreds of shots Sunday morning.

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies and an FBI agent responded to the area known as Deep Creek Hot Springs after reports of gunshots and chanting in the predawn hours, officials said. According to law enforcement sources, 17 men of Middle Eastern descent were detained.

But none were arrested or charged in connection with shooting firearms and they cooperated with deputies, authorities said.

Also apparently ignorant of the suppression of news reporting on the incident were Los Angeles television station KCAL, the Victorville Daily Press, and the Press-Enterprise, all of whom also reported on the incident:

The men had handguns, a rifle and a shotgun, all of which were registered with the California Department of Justice except for the rifle. Rifles and shotguns do not require registration in California, [Sgt. David] Rodriguez said.

The men cooperated with the investigation, and none were found to have a criminal history, authorities said.

Deputies also contacted several hikers in the area, but none reported seeing the men shooting guns.

Rodriguez said deputies will not be doing any further investigation into the incident.

The Press-Enterprise article also described initial reports of the men's appearance as "inaccurate," according to police in San Bernardino:

Someone called 911 about 8:25 a.m. to report seeing five to seven "subjects wearing turbans" shooting various firearms and hearing more than 100 gunshots, the release said. Deputies later learned that the caller's description of the men was not accurate, and that one man was wearing a scarf.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office also issued a press release about the incident on 27 March 2016, which read:

DATE/TIME: March 27, 2016 / 8:25am
INCIDENT: Incident
LOCATION: Deep Creek Hot Springs, Apple Valley

On Sunday, March 27, 2016, at about 8:25 am, deputies from the Victor Valley Sheriff's Station responded to reports of shots fired in the Deep Creek Hot Springs area of Apple Valley. The reporting party told the 911 operator more than 100 shots were heard and 5 to 7 subjects wearing turbans were seen in the area shooting assault rifles, handguns, and shotguns.

Due to this being a very rural location, Sheriff's Aviation assisted to conduct an area check for the alleged shooters while patrol units from the Victor Valley Station responded. The sheriff's helicopter arrived and located a group of males, 17 total, walking away from the creek carrying back packs and other items. Deputies from Apple Valley, Hesperia, and Victorville Police Stations also responded to assist.

Shortly after deputies arrived to the area the subjects were detained and searched. Several handguns, a rifle, and a shotgun were found during a search of the backpacks and bedding the subjects had been carrying. The subjects were very cooperative and were interviewed. A local FBI agent responded to assist with interviews. A records check of the subjects, their weapons, and their vehicles was completed. The records check revealed none of the subjects had a criminal history or outstanding warrants, the weapons were registered with the Department of Justice except for the rifle, and the vehicles were also registered.

Several hikers were contacted, but none of them witnessed the guns being fired. There was no evidence found that a crime had been committed by any of the subjects who were detained and they were released.

As the official incident report stated, no one in the area questioned by police said they had witnessed guns being fired nor reported having been fired upon. Police found and interviewed the group of men in question and discovered that their possession of firearms was in compliance with the law and that none of them had any outstanding warrants or criminal histories. While the caller who reported the men to police claimed five to seven of the men wore turbans and fired assault rifles, police didn't mention turbans or other headwear, and they noted that the men were in possession of "handguns, a rifle, and a shotgun" (but no "assault rifles"). No credible news reports made any mention of the "Allahu Akbar" claim, and no witnesses stated they had been "shot at" by the men while hiking or camping. Also, the police report described the men only as "males," not "Middle Eastern males" or "Muslim males."

The web site that started this rumor was Superstation95, which is not a "superstation" at all but rather a repository of misinformation from Hal Turner, who in 2010 was sentenced to 33 months in prison for making death threats against three federal judges. (The name listed in the site's Contact page is Turner's criminal lawyer.)

That same site similarly (and baselessly) claimed that a woman who crashed into pedestrians on the Las Vegas strip in December 2015 had shouted "Allahu Akbar" and was subsequently rebuked by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for spreading false information:

Superstation95 also falsely claimed that the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting occurred because the shooter was offended that pork was served at a Christmas party, that all cargo ships ceased transporting goods in January 2016, and that seafood was contaminated with "cancerous tumors" following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Secondary reporting claiming that Muslim men fired upon hikers (and that the media covered it up) appeared on a site that had previously inaccurately claimed Illinois had applied Sharia law to driver's licenses, that Target introduced "Sharia-compliant" checkout lanes, and that Muslims successfully banned Halloween at a New Jersey school.


Winton, Richard.   "FBI Investigating Reports Of Middle Eastern Men Firing Hundreds Of Shots In Apple Valley." Los Angeles Times.   29 March 2016.

"APPLE VALLEY: Deputies Respond To Reports Of Shots Fired; No Arrests Made." Press-Enterprise.   28 March 2016.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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