Two hotels heed gang's warning of car shootings Authorities call rumor a hoax

September 27, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

At least two downtown Baltimore hotels took precautions over the weekend after hearing a widespread rumor that recruits for the Los Angeles-based gang the Bloods were randomly shooting motorists as part of a nationwide initiation campaign.

Law enforcement agencies around the country have called the fax-spread warning a hoax. The bogus advisory said that gang initiates driving with headlights off this past weekend intended to kill everyone in the first car flashing lights at them.

Paul Reed, assistant general manager of the Comfort Inn on Franklin Street, said he received the fax Friday from a Johns Hopkins Hospital employee. A Comfort Inn receptionist relayed the fax the same day to the Latham Hotel, formerly the Peabody, on Cathedral Street.

Patricia Jackson, the Latham's front office supervisor, said she posted the fax for her employees, "especially the bellmen who drive the hotel's courtesy van, just telling them to be careful."

Kirk Martin, a Latham valet, said, "I told my family about it. You can never be sure."

Mr. Reed said he also posted the fax for his employees, but did not inform guests.

"I didn't want to make people nervous who were visiting Baltimore," he said.

The bogus warning appeared to have originated in Sacramento, Calif., where a computer enthusiast reportedly placed the bad information on a computer bulletin board after hearing it at a civic meeting. It peaked Thursday, as fax machines hummed out copies at police departments, hospitals, schools, mortuaries, businesses and homes across the country.

Latham valet Robert Huebner said he is still not taking any chances.

"I've heard stories that they are trying to expand across the country," he said, "so [the warning] is easy to believe."

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