Truck Lighted

So, we were driving back from dinner and its about 10:00 pm. I was actually driving. Anyway. A white truck was coming the opposite way and his lights were off. So, my head raced about what do do. I finally figured it out and turned off-on my lights. I was hoping he noticed. Just as he passed me, they went on! Yay!

that's all


Crunch said...

Be careful... Some gangs do this initiation where they will drive with the lights off. The first person that flashes their lights at them becomes their initiation target.

Let's just say that bad things happen to the target.

Irene said...

I heard that too. The WIchita police told one of the girls I work with that very same thing and said NEVER flash your lights at a car with their lights off. It usually is just a person who forgot to turn them on but it is known that gangs choose their victims of things like initiation rituals just this way. The nice guy who tries to warn them gets hurt or worse.

The Math Ninja said...

Well, geez...now I feel like I didn't do anything good. How sad.

The Math Ninja said...

Hey, maybe the police say to not help, because they wanna give people tickets.

Ookami Snow said...

Also, rapists choose to attack joggers a lot, so don't jog.

Crunch said...

"Also, rapists choose to attack joggers a lot, so don't jog."

Exactly... better to be safe than sorry.

Actually, I just found this... guess the whole headlight thing is a myth.


Origins: Although print references to this scare date back to 1993, anecdotal information takes it back to the early 1980s when a reader in Montana heard the Flash me if you dare! Hell's Angels bike gang in California was said to be initiating inductees in this fashion. By 1984 the story had spread to Eugene, Oregon and had by then changed into a tale of Black and hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles targeting white people. "Flash your headlights and have a prospective gang member kill you as part of his initiation" legends have been with us for more than twenty years, something that should be kept in mind as hysteria builds during new outbreaks of this panic.

In August 1993, a major outbreak of this scare swept the United States as the legend spread quickly with the help of fax machines and e-mail forwards. The early fears were further intensified when a new round of faxes went out a few weeks later, these announcing a "Blood initiation weekend" of September 25 and 26 of that year:
Police Depts across the nation are being warned that this is the "blood" initiation weekend. Their intent is to have all the new bloods nationwide drive around on Saturday and Sunday nights with their headlights off. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash to warn them that their lights are off.
"Blood initiation weekend" came and went without incident. Meanwhile, fake memos continued to circulate, each issuing a dire warning about this new gang initiation rite. The alerts looked credible — they were printed on what was purported to be Sacramento (California) or Illinois State Police letterhead. The police department in Lynn (Massachusetts) also got into the act when a prankster induced it to issue a warning. All three of those law enforcement agencies fielded thousands of calls about the alerts they had supposedly

The false rumor struck especially hard in Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, New York State, California, and Texas. From the end of 1993 until February 1994, it went into remission. Then a Massillon woman revived it with a one-page handwritten flier that said police were warning women to be aware because a gang was coming from Detroit to recruit members. Initiation would be to kill a woman at Belden Village Mall. In one night, she sent faxes to several dozen businesses. Police arrested Ann Sibila the next day and charged her with inducing panic.

It's possible the 1993 outbreak of this hoax was helped along by memories of a real life incident in 1992. Kelly Freed, a school secretary from Stockton, California, was shot to death after the driver of the car she was riding in gestured to a carload of kids who had forgotten to turn their headlights on. According to Stockton Police Lt. Ted Montes, the gesture was mistaken as a sign of disrespect. Montes said the kids were not gang-bangers and the incident had nothing to do with ritual. The two youths responsible for Freed's death were convicted of murder.

The rumor lay dormant until October 1998 when it again whipped around the Internet and through fax machines. The warnings this time were said to have originated with a DARE police officer in Houston, Texas. Once again, it was the same old story — no gang initiations, no killings, just a hoax on the loose. A hoax which quickly spread to all parts of the U.S.A.

Scares of this ilk easily pick up additional believability based on who does the forwarding. The 1998 version was given an extra little boost in San Diego when Housing Commission staffers there forwarded the warning to other city departments, including the Mayor's office and City Council. Though the "warning" was quickly debunked and short-circuited at City Hall, this didn't happen before those forwards — now issuing from a local government agency and thus much more likely to be believed — spread far and wide.

In common with versions in circulation in other parts of the country, the San Diego warning was said to have originated with the Sheriff's Department. (In most every community this warning reaches, the "Sheriff's Department" mentioned in the memo is always presumed to be the local one.) Debunking in San Diego was simple; someone at City Hall contacted the actual Sheriff's Department for confirmation. "We certainly did not send it out," said Lt. Ronald Van Raaphorst.

Sometimes the actual warning does come from a real Sheriff's Department. In the fall of 1998, the Nassau Sheriff's Office in Florida forwarded the warning to the Fire Department, who subsequently sent it to every department in the city. In this case, the mistake originated with the Sheriff's Office; it hadn't bothered to check out a fax before forwarding it to others:
Still, Ann Johnson, who supervises Nassau County dispatchers, said she thought the memo was serious enough to distribute. One of her part-time dispatchers brought it to her office and told her he had confirmed it with Jacksonville police, she said. So her office sent it to various agencies in the county.
The 1998 prize for most authoritative vectoring of this canard goes to Art Eggleton, Canada's Minister of Defence. On 20 November 1998, his office dispatched an "!!URGENT!!" security warning for all Ontario Members of Parliament. Later that same day, his office followed up the warning with an update advising recipients the original story was false.

In 2004 the hoax jumped to Britain and through some form of garbling came to be associated with the London Ambulance Service. In widely-circulated e-mailed alerts, it was claimed gangs in London were initiating new members into their ranks via having them prove their mettle by shooting at whichever motorist blinked his headlights at them. Further, many of the e-mails asserted the warning has been "received and authenticated by the Metropolitan Police Intelligence Unit."

The London Ambulance Service posted this denial on its web site:

An e-mail purported to have been issued by the London Ambulance Service on the subject of the police and gang crimes has been widely circulated in recent days.

This originated from outside the Service and was forwarded by a member of staff to friends in good faith. Please be assured, however, that we have checked with the Metropolitan Police Service and the information contained within it is not genuine, so the message can be safely deleted.
In 2004 a police officer in Thunder Bay, Ontario, forwarded the "lights out" warning to a colleague. That note subsquently escaped into the wild, leaving many with the impression that the Ontario Provincial Police had issued an official warning about gang members flashing their headlights at intended victims. The officer has since left a message on his voice mail indicating the alert bearing his name and signature block is an urban legend and that there have been "no known cases having occurred in Ontario or in Canada." Moreover, according to that recording, his e-mail to a colleague was "never intended as a public advisory from the O.P.P.," with callers advised to "Please disregard the message in its entirety." That same e-mail bore the name and signature of a second officer, one in Ottawa. His voice mail recording also contains a denial of the alert, telling callers the warning is "completely false and innaccurate, and should not be passed on."

In 2005 an employee of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police passed to others a copy of the warning received in personal e-mail. The addition of this person's signature block to the e-mail gave the specious heads-up the appearance of credibility, convincing many it really was an official warning from the RCMP. The confusion prompted the RCMP to post a denial on its web site:
The following e-mail hoax has been circulating in Canada with an RCMP signature. One of our Saskatchewan employees sent this e-mail on to others in good faith without realizing it was untrue. The information contained in the e-mail is FALSE and the RCMP regrets any unnecessary alarm this may have caused the public.
In September 2005 the unfounded warning about new members gaining acceptance into gangs via this method came to life once again, with warnings about the upcoming "Blood initiation weekend" springing up in communities across the nation. But of course what had people going in 2005 was but a reworking of previous baseless scares:
[Collected via e-mail, 2005]

Police Depts across the nation are being warned that September 23rd and 24th is the "blood" initiation weekend. Their intent is to have all the new bloods nation wide drive around on Friday and Saturday nights with their headlights off. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash to warn them that their lights are off.

[Collected via e-mail, 1993]

Police Depts across the nation are being warned that this is the "blood" initiation weekend. Their intent is to have all the new bloods nationwide drive around on Saturday and Sunday nights with their headlights off. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash to warn them that their lights are off.
In late October 2005, the hoax hammered Mexico, with at least three different state agencies in that country issuing press releases about a Guatemalan gang named "Los Sangre" (The Blood). Supposedly, the Guatemalan office of Interpol alerted Mexico's Federal Agency of Investigation, who in turn notified local authorities in Michoacan to this gang's presence in Mexico and its plans to initiate new recruits during the two weekends prior to Halloween by having gang hopefuls drive about in darkened cars, then chase down and kill ordinary citizens who flashed headlights at them. These official alerts were quickly spread through the media to the general population, causing a great deal of anxiety.

We've been unable to locate any mentions of a Guatemalan gang or drug cartel going by the name "Los Sangre," which would likely not be the case for a group of thugs that had a high enough profile for Interpol to know about it. By contrast, references to real Guatemalan gangs, such as Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 (aka MS-18), are rife.

Throughout the history of the "lights out!" scare there have been two shootings that might have been prompted by the rumor. The first was a possible copycat attack that injured David Vargyas of Toledo, Ohio. in October 1993. According to the driver in whose car Vargyas was traveling, a car with its headlights off approached from the opposite direction; when he [the driver] flashed his headlights at the suspect car to warn its driver, the car pulled alongside and someone inside fired three shots, one of which wounded Vargyas.

In 2004 in Los Angeles, 23-year-old Eduardo Cardenas was killed in a manner that appears to mimic the legend, but since all the facts are not yet known, no real conclusion can be drawn. While stopped for a red light in the early evening on 5 November 2004, he called out to the two occupants of the vehicle to his left to make them aware of their car's headlights not being on. The passenger in that other car produced a gun and fired several shots at Cardenas, striking him in the upper torso. The young man so assaulted died shortly after being transported by ambulance to Northridge Hospital.

We know what happened thanks to the victim's 12-year-old cousin, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the shooting. However, why it happened remains a mystery at this point. Neither of the suspects has been apprehended, which means no one can say why they acted as they did. While the "gang initiation" theory can't be definitinvely ruled out at this point, neither can any other explanation, including that those two were just pissed off at everybody at that particular moment, so any comment or gesture directed towards them for any reason would have prompted the same deadly response.

Other than these two incidents, one in 1993 and one in 2004 (and even in those cases we're not sure what prompted the acts, whether they were "lights out" shootings, or if a popular rumor was used to cover something else, or if the violence and the intelligences about headlights were unrelated), there have been no documented "Lights Out!" shootings.

Barbara "gang way" Mikkelson

Sightings: This legend is key to the plot of the 1998 film Urban Legend.

Last updated: 29 October 2005

The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/lightsout.asp

Ookami Snow said...

That's what I was gonna say! (all of it...)