Fact Check

'The Purge' Crime Warning

Are gangs planning a multi-city murder spree in imitation of the film 'Purge 2'?

Published Aug. 15, 2014


Claim:   Gangs are planning a multi-city murder spree in imitation of the film Purge 2.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2014]

Please see link below regarding rumors of a "Purge Night" in Louisville, KY.

Please help! My mom is really worried about this!! Thanks :)

Is the Detroit purge rumor really true? Supposedly teens in that area are reenacting the purge movies and going on a killing spree.

There is a rumor going around Facebook and my city (Jacksonville, Florida) that residents of Florida, most particularly Jacksonville, will be participating in a "purge" (yes, like the stupid movie) on August 31, 2014.

The Sheriff's Office claims that they have heard nothing official but will be keeping their "ears and eyes out" for such activity. Is this a real thing that will occur? Knowing ASAP so we can get the heck out of here would be so helpful. Does anyone really believe in this stuff, will there be participants?


Origins:   Rumors of a mass crime spree referred to as a "real life" imitation of the film The Purge were heavily circulated on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook in mid-August 2014.

Real life The Purge imitations

were rumored for 15 August through 16 August in Louisville, Kentucky. The tale rapidly spread to encompass other cities, including Jacksonville, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; and Cleveland, Ohio; with at least one mentioned for later in August.

The scare was a topic of conversation and intrigue across the local social web, and it appears many residents were genuinely fearful such an event could come to pass. Making matters worse, the rumor filtered into the blogosphere, along with suggestions that the "threat" was credible.

School events in and around Louisville were canceled due to the rumor, and police addressed growing concern among residents. Louisville Metro Police Department Sgt. Phil Russell said of the fears:

A number of people have reached out to us. We're going to take any threat that we receive seriously, particularly one that encourages and incites violence against our community ... We're going to take that seriously and investigate that as thoroughly as we can. As a department, I believe that we're adequately prepared for anything that could arise."


Student reporters in Louisville claimed to have identified a student who accidentally started what they've called the "Purge hoax," though the teen's name was not supplied:

The Crimson Student Press quoted the unnamed teen as saying that he tweeted the image as a joke after watching the film, and did not intend to kick off any panic:

I was sitting in my house and watching 'The Purge,' and I thought of the tweet and picture that started it. But didn't think it'd get that big from there. I didn't mean any harm by this at all. I love my city[.]"

Police later confirmed a juvenile's link to online "Purge" fears, noting that he had not been charged but they were continuing to investigate.

While police took Purge rumors seriously in Louisville, local media and sources within the Louisville Metro Police Department agree that weekend criminal activity was quite average:

Complete hoax. I am a police officer here and can 100% confirm nothing occurred during the "purge" Fri night in Louisville, KY or neighboring cities that was outside the norm. There were many false reports and unfounded complaints all night, however


Last updated:   17 August 2014


    Evans, Tamara.   "Louisville's Purge: A Night of Violence That Never Happened."

    WDRB News.   16 August 2014.

    Teague, William.   "LMPD Says No Higher Crimes In Light of 'Purge' Threat."

    WHAS11.com.   16 August 2014.

    Thomas, Matthew.   "Police: Louisville Teen Behind Online 'Purge' Flier."

    WLKY Louisville.   16 August 2014.

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

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