The Macon County Sheriffs Department received between 30 and 40 phone calls on Wednesday, March 19, after a text message, claiming that gangs are doing initiations by killing people at Walmart stores, circulated throughout the county.
Nashville’s Channel 4 newsroom and several employees at the Chronicle also received the text, which has also been reported to have made its way through other states including Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Idaho . . . just to name a few.
While the Sheriffs Department cautions everyone to always be aware of their surroundings, it is confirmed that the text is a hoax that began circulating in Memphis, Tenn., in 2005.
The Macon County Sheriffs Department received this message from Massachusetts concerning the text, through its nationwide Teletype system:
The text messages for gang initiations at Walmart have been confirmed, by numerous departments and states, to be a hoax. It is going on throughout the country.
“The text messages that have recently caused concern regarding gang initiations, have been proven to be hoax,” said Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons. “While we appreciate those who have brought them to our attention, residents should not be concerned that there is any truth to the messages.”
Anna Taylor, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, released the following statement to Nashville’s WSMV:
"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority. We are aware of the message being circulated and are working with local authorities to enhance our security efforts . . . While we take these types of situation seriously, we regard this as being only a rumor, much like similar rumors that have circulated via e-mail in previous years."