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Hoax targets Wal-Mart stores

March 19, 2009 |  5:54 pm

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department took the unusual step Thursday afternoon of issuing a statement to try to stamp out a rumor that gang-initiation killings were planned at local Wal-Mart stores.

“These rumors, which have become widespread in San Diego County, are false,” the department announced after dozens of panicky calls from would-be shoppers were received at the department’s communications center.

The Wal-Mart-gang killing rumor, apparently fed by the Internet, has surfaced in numerous communities across the country in recent days. Sheriff’s Department officials contacted other local police agencies and found “no intelligence to corroborate” the rumor, the department said.

-- Tony Perry